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Whole System Change

This post is by Helen Janc Malone.

Welcome to our final blog week!

What does it take to change an entire education system in a way that benefits all students and the society at large? According to this week's contributors, it is an approach to educational change that fundamentally supports the culture, values, beliefs, norms, and principles of the society, one that engages all stakeholders equally, and one that allows change to happen at every level in order to realize a shared educational vision.
    • Alma Harris addresses the importance of consolidation, in addition to innovation, in creating sustainable change. As she notes, "Scaling up has to involve more than the spread of new materials, new ideas, or new strategies; it must also involve the spread of underlying beliefs, norms, and principles. This takes time, resilience, determination, and persistence."
    • Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro reminds us that federal reforms alone are not enough. Reforms have to come from all levels and that all stakeholders must have a direct input in shaping the future of education, in particular students who are directly affected by policies that impact their schooling experiences.
    • Pak Tee Ng discusses how two secondary education admission policy changes are raising questions about fair assessments and holistic education. He notes "education reform is seldom, if ever, merely an education issue. It is deeply entwined with societal culture."
    • Pasi Sahlberg concludes this week by discussing the importance of play and informal learning as a foundation for innovation, creativity, and overall child development. As he notes, it is a series of such decisions (about learning, teaching, and the role of society) Finland has made that has created a quality education system garnering much of the international attention. As he concludes, "Finland's success is a result of finding its own way of change rather than doing more of the same."
This week's contributors include: Alma Harris, a professor and the director of the Institute of Educational Leadership at the University of Malaysia and the president of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement; Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro, an associate researcher of the Center for Public Policies at the State University of Câmpinas, São Paulo, and the executive director of SEADE; Pak Tee Ng, the associate dean, leadership learning, and the head of policy and leadership studies academic group at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in Singapore; and Pasi Sahlberg, the director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and an adjunct professor of education at the Universities of Helsinki Oulu and an international thinker on education policy and change.

As always, we encourage you to join in the conversation by sharing our posts and commenting on the individual contributions.


Helen Janc Malone is the Director of Institutional Advancement at the Institute for Educational Leadership and the editor of the book Leading Educational Change.
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