Rewriting the grammar of secondary schools: lessons in paradigm change from multi-age organisation

Barnard, Peter Alexander (2021) Rewriting the grammar of secondary schools: lessons in paradigm change from multi-age organisation. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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The author’s public works described below are systemic in style but embrace a multi-disciplinary perspective. They speak of incoherence in the traditional structure of schooling caused by same-age organization, more accurately, an incoherence in structuration, the duality of structure and agency described by Giddens (1979). The public works argue that as the complexity of social and learning demands on schools increase, the same-age structural form is increasingly unable to cope and that any attempt at an upgrade will not work. To mask this learning handicap, the school as an organization changes how it communicates, deploying semantics and linguistics to subvert the meaning of care, capacity, complexity, and collaboration. The public works argue that such an unconscious process negatively impacts both individual and organization learning besides being detrimental to participant wellbeing. Put simply, schools are using the wrong organizational system.

The public works argue that the perpetuation of the traditional same-age organizational structure used in secondary schools accounts for the failure of reform and the apparent resistance of schools to change. Such a problem is exacerbated by the absence of a viable alternative form of organization, a systemic way of seeing that exposes organizational assumptions and frames of reference, what is happening at the level of policy reception in the everyday. The arrival of the vertical tutoring system provides such a lens and the means by which the two systems (same-age and multi-age) can understand and see each other.

The thesis of the public works argues that the inability of schools to match their capacity to cope with system demand embeds an unconscious process (mindset) of reasoning, the “defensive routines” observed by Argyris and Schon and described by Dick and Dalmau (1990). The prolonged absence of a viable alternative exacerbates such unconscious self-deception.

The public works have six broad intentions:
1. To describe a viable and alternative form of organization called the vertical tutoring system (VT) trialled by schools worldwide.
2. To use the VT model as a means of interrogating existing assumptions and frames of reference used in traditional same-age schools.
3. To illustrate the transformative learning challenges involved in such a paradigmatic shift.
4. To show how the “lines of inquiry” (described below, pp. 2-6) can be used to account for the failure of reform.
5. To show how and why age-group organization determines the grammar of schooling (the way schools work)
6. To explain how vertical integration (multi-age grouping) releases the agentic capacity needed for paradigmatic change.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 35418
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2022 09:02
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2022 07:11

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