Orienting dialogues about school renewal

Year: 2003

Author: Cavanagh, Rob, Dellar, Graham, Reynolds, Peter

Type of paper: Refereed paper

School renewal is more often than not conceptualised as part of a dichotomy - as the antithesis of school reform. This essay argues that the persistence of dichotomous thinking with respect to school renewal is understandable given historical and prevailing notions regarding the dualistic aims of education. The view is put however, that conceiving renewal as one part of a dichotomy tends to miss the point as to what school renewal is all about. The idea is presented here that a more useful way for conceptualising renewal is to recognise and extrapolate the intellectual basis of the pluralistic notion advanced by Sirotnik (1999) concerning school renewal as an act of personal responsibility. The paper finds that possibly the clearest and most thorough expression of this can be found in the philosophical hermeneutics of the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) who, at the end of a very long life, declared in a final clarification of the philosophical system he first published in 1960, that “education is self -education” (Gadamer, 1999; Cleary & Hogan [transl.], 2001). According to logic assayed by others although developed thoroughly by Gadamer, a substantial case can be offered to suggest that school renewal may be the normative condition of educational change.