Whole school change that spreads and lasts: A technology of resilience for schools working within adverse conditions

Year: 2004

Author: Hayes, Debra

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper addresses an enduring issue in educational research and practice: How to achieve whole school change focussed on learning in communities experiencing high levels of social dislocation, educational disadvantage and student disengagement from learning. By focussing on these conditions, I am highlighting the particular challenges of stabilising and sustaining whole school change in these communities. I outline an approach to reform that is framed by an understanding of schools and how they operate from within. This approach differs from reform efforts generally that seek to replicate external successful reform efforts. Rather than grappling with the question of how to transplant or bring particular reforms to scale, the question I focus on is how to bring a focus on teaching and learning to scale within schools that share certain discourses of schooling - forms, practices and structures. These discourses constitute certain technologies - the means and possibilities for change. Significantly, technologies of change are constituted by schooling discourses; they are determined by the nature of schooling; and, they produce certain types of effects that we recognise as schools. I argue that by identifying, naming and describing schooling discourses it is possible to work within and against the technologies they produce to amplify, mediate, validate and subvert certain effects of schooling. This is illustrated through a description of a technology of resilience that is supporting some schools working within adverse conditions to prioritise learning and teaching as their central activity.