As in the Serengeti, So in Schools


By Joseph L. Hartman (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D,
via Wikimedia Commons

In an interesting dissertation written by Ana Margarida Guimaraes Nuno entitled Managing social-ecological systems under uncertainty: implications for conservation, the author “highlights the need to consider the role of people as influential components within social-ecological systems in order to promote effective conservation interventions.”

This concern for acknowledging the critical role of social networks is something that resonated with me, as I had just concluded in a recent post (“Prepare for That Which Preparation Is Impossible”) that “seeking to better the work we do in the midst of this chaos and complexity thus requires us to harness the networking power of the human and social capital in the building: our teachers, administrators, staff, and children.”
Nuno focuses on conservation in the Serengeti for her case study. What is interesting here is how this could just as easily apply to school systems:

“Flexible and transparent decision-making, enhancing collaboration, accommodating a plurality of values, perceptions, and beliefs, and identifying common goals and a shared vision among stakeholders are key priorities to addressing the “implementation crisis” (Reed 2008; Biggs et al. 2011). This demands a multifaceted toolkit combining qualitative and quantitative techniques and will require different solutions according to the specific context and study system, such as mental models, to incorporating multiple sources of knowledge (Biggs et al. 2011).”

 “Implementation crisis” is a term readily applicable to most any initiative that comes down the state to district pipeline in a school system. In the face of uncertainty and chaos in the complex adaptive systems of schools, we would do well to heed this advice.

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