As always, Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves were excellent at The Quest Conference. They managed to engage an audience of a thousand educators on the core work of school improvement. It’s why their work resonates with so many people around the world.
Fullan and Hargreaves continue to build on the foundations of their work – solutions are found in the practitioner (shades of Elmore) and evidence-based practice is good practice.
Hargreaves talks about the five fallacies of education reform: speed, substitution, data, prescription and competition.
Fullan reflected on the need for precision, coherence and specificity and proffered this advice:
- Focus on a process and provide local support (educational expenditure has quadrupled over the last decade but performance hasn’t).
- Identify good practice then share and apply it.
- Once student learning starts to improve, be prepared to change practice.
- Develop a collective plan for improvement and strengthen it through individual strategies.
- Make innovation mainstream. Personalised learning and de-privatised teacher practice must be the norm.
It’s also worth noting Douglas Reeves‘ comments on school improvement programs. Reeves says if we ask which program works, we are doomed.
Change is driven by people and practice not programs. If we think programs will improve student learning, we may see short term results but they can’t be sustained over a long period. Reeves says continuing to introduce programs into schools is the antithesis of what focus is all about.
I suppose Reeves confirms what we already know – there’s no silver bullet or easy steps to improving schooling. Perhaps the mantra is people and practice.