Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education

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Created by bestselling author and MIT senior lecturer Peter Senge and a team of educators and organizational change leaders, this new addition to the Fifth Discipline Resource Book series offers practical advice for educators, administrators, and parents on how to strengthen and rebuild our schools.

Few would argue that schools today are in trouble. The problems are sparking a national debate as educators, school boards, administrators, and parents search for ways to strengthen ...

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Overview

Created by bestselling author and MIT senior lecturer Peter Senge and a team of educators and organizational change leaders, this new addition to the Fifth Discipline Resource Book series offers practical advice for educators, administrators, and parents on how to strengthen and rebuild our schools.

Few would argue that schools today are in trouble. The problems are sparking a national debate as educators, school boards, administrators, and parents search for ways to strengthen our school system at all levels, more effectively respond to the rapidly changing world around us, and better educate our children.

Bestselling author Peter Senge and his Fifth Discipline team have written Schools That Learn because educators—who have made up a sizable percentage of the audience for the popular Fifth Discipline books—have asked for a book that focuses specifically on schools and education, to help reclaim schools even in economically depressed or turbulent districts. One of the great strengths of Schools That Learn is its description of practices that are meeting success across the country and around the world, as schools attempt to learn, grow, and reinvent themselves using the principles of organizational learning. Featuring articles, case studies, and anecdotes from prominent educators such as Howard Gardner, Jay Forrester, and 1999 U.S. Superintendent of the Year Gerry House, as well as from impassioned teachers, administrators, parents, and students, the book offers a wealth of practical tools, anecdotes, and advice that people can use to help schools (and the classrooms in them and communities around them) learn to learn.

You'll read about schools, for instance, where principals introduce themselves to parents new to the school as "entering a nine-year conversation" about their children's education; where teachers use computer modeling to galvanize student insight into everything from Romeo and Juliet to the extinction of the mammoths; and where teachers' training is not just bureaucratic ritual but an opportunity to recharge and rethink the classroom.

In a fast-changing world where school violence is a growing concern, where standardized tests are applied as simplistic "quick fixes," where rapid advances in science and technology threaten to outpace schools' effectiveness, where the average tenure of a school district superintendent is less than three years, and where students, parents, and teachers feel weighed down by increasing pressures, Schools That Learn offers much-needed material for the dialogue about the educating of children in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Advance Acclaim for Schools That Learn:

"Today, more than ever, all the forces within society must join together to prepare our children to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world. Schools That Learn is an important resource for all those wanting to tackle the challenge of integrating family, school, faith community, and policymakers into one coalition on behalf of children."
--Dr. James P. Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale Child Study Center, Associate Dean, Yale School of Medicine

"I don't know of a country that is happy with its educational system. That is because most schools are crafted for the mass production ethic of industrial society. Changing this obsolete state of affairs is the best investment that a government or community can make. This book can help; it shows how schools can reorient themselves to emphasize humanity, adventure, entrepreneurship, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and experimentation, instead of rote learning."
--Kenichi Ohmae, author of The Mind of the Strategist and The Invisible Continent

"I plan to read long passages to my daughter. Whenever I think about the world in which she (and her children) will grow up, the educational system seems to be the locus of both hope and despair. Reading this book is like opening the curtains and letting in rays of hope, illuminating an entire, systemic, detailed map for change."
--Howard Rheingold, author, The Virtual Community

What Educators and Students Say About How Our Schools Work

"It took us three years to define the standards we expected of students, because we engaged the community from the beginning. It mattered to us that [the people of Memphis] own the standards."
--1999 U.S. Superintendent of the Year Gerry House

"Ordinarily, teachers are taught to work as individuals, so staff development has to help them learn to work together. And it needs to be an ongoing process, with enough time to learn new ways of teaching, to develop esprit de corps, and to unlearn old habits."
--Ed Joyner, executive director of the Yale School Development Program

"We work harder than kids in other schools. But we have more fun doing it. All the kids have different rates of learning, so the teachers keep up different rates of training."
--Students at a "five disciplines" -oriented middle school in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Thankfully, organizational management theory guru Senge doesn't make the kind of simplistic prescriptions for improving schools that often come from the business community. At the heart of his handbook for educational change are the ideas Senge first articulated in The Fifth Discipline and subsequent books on building organizations where learning can thrive. His five key themes highlight the importance of developing realistic personal goals, establishing a shared vision, cultivating awareness of attitudes and perceptions, practicing positive group interaction and understanding interdependency and change, feedback and complexity. Although there aren't any genuine breakthroughs or original ideas here, the book succeeds in offering a compendium of useful concepts and innovative practices that may be of use to educators struggling to redefine themselves and their work during a time of rapid global and technological change. The book's broad sweep is both a strength and weakness. Some readers may be frustrated by the lack of depth and focus, though the book's helpful resource lists will steer them to other valuable sources. By popularizing ideas about learning theory, leadership, group dynamics and school/ community partnerships that are already accepted in much of the educational community, this handy volume may help parents better understand the struggles of educators to create dynamic and effective learning environments. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Following the theory he began in The Fifth Discipline, Senge turns his attention this time from the business world to education in this fourth addition to his "Fifth Discipline Resource" series, so named because it focuses on a set of disciplines the author believes are key to organizational learning (personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, team learning, and systems thinking). But there is a special challenge when applying the five disciplines to our educational system. America has moved out of the Industrial Age, and so has the business world. Our educational system, however, has not. Senge argues persuasively that we must abandon Industrial Age assumptions about schools. This requires centering learning around the student instead of the teacher, discouraging "homogeneity," and getting away from rote memorization. In short, it means treating schools like living systems instead of machines. Senge suggests that the readers browse as needed, following the cross references scattered throughout the book, rather than reading it from cover to cover. While primarily of use to those within the educational system, this book will also be of interest to parents. Change in education is hard, but students would benefit from the suggestions here. Give Senge credit for trying! Recommended for most public libraries.--Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385493239
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST CURREN
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Senge is the author of The Fifth Discipline, "one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years" Harvard Business Review. Together with Arthur D. Little executive Bryan Smith and editorial director Art Kleiner, he is coauthor of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook and The Dance of Change.

Nelda Cambron-McCabe, professor at the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University (Ohio), is a nationally known expert on school reform and leadership; Timothy Lucas, a public school superintendent in New Jersey, is a recognized innovator of systems-thinking approaches for schools; and Janis Dutton is an education writer, consultant, and community activist.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 23, 2012

    Can be used as a reference in any organization

    Very interesting read, explaining the nuts and bolts of process change within an organization.

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