Researching connections between the systemic influences of an educational leader and the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning.
For presentation at the annual conference of the Invisible College, Moscone Centre, San Francisco, 6th April 2006.
25 MARCH 2006
Jacqueline Delong, Superintendent of Education
Grand Erie District School Board Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Jack Whitehead, Department of Education, University of Bath.
Over 11 years, Delong has encouraged and supported pre-school, elementary and secondary teachers, administrators and support staff to research their practice by asking questions of the kind, "How Can I Improve My Practice?" (Delong, 2002; Whitehead, 1989, 2005). The evidence of systemic influence in relation to these enquiries is embodied in Five volumes of Passion In Professional Practice: Action Research In Grand Erie (Delong, Black And Knill-Griesser, 2001-2005) and annual conferences of the Ontario Educational Research Council and Act Reflect Revise, where researchers also share their findings. The support model has been developed, refined and published in Action Research For Teaching Excellence (Delong, Black & Wideman, 2005).
In this paper, Delong will share ways in which she is continuing to contribute to the development of a culture of inquiry through action research that provides the foundation for an emerging systemic influence that connects a number of programs and values. The programs include Early Learning and Parenting, Roots of Empathy, Tribes, Schools Attuned, Mind Shift and Moving Toward Independence. The values are embodied in Special Education Guiding Principles GEDSB, 2003), Inclusive Cultures, Valuing the Other and Inquiry and Reflection (Delong, 2002). All of the programs are focused on improving students' learning by building capacity in the system. They reinforce and connect to each other and embody the values. All of the programs have been researched by practitioners using the programs in the District School Board for the purpose of improving student learning.
The significance of the presentation lies in its contribution to understanding the living standards of practice and judgment that can be used to assess the quality of practice-based research and self-studies of teacher-education practice. The significance of the importance of developing agreed-upon procedures for transforming knowledge based on personal experiences of practice into 'public' knowledge has been highlighted by Snow (2001). Such 'public' knowledge will require comprehensible standards of judgment.
Whitehead will provide an evidence based explanation of the systemic influences (Marshall, 2004) of Delong's educational leadership that draws on the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning. The explanation will introduce a new idea of inclusionality from the work of Rayner (2005). Inclusionality is a relationally dynamic awareness of interconnecting and branching channels of communication in space whose boundaries are connective, reflexive and co-creative. It will be argued that Delong's systemic influences as an educational leader can be understood from a perspective of inclusionality. In this perspective complex self-identities are viewed as receptive neighbourhoods in dynamic, loving, responsive relationship. The significance of relational and dialogic ways of being in educational leadership and influence have been addressed through multi-media accounts using digital technology. These accounts (Farren, 2006; Naidoo, 2005; Whitehead, 2005) enable the plural structures and interconnecting and branching networks of relationships in self-study accounts to be represented and understood in terms of living standards of practice and judgement.
Continuing to contribute to the development of a culture of inquiry – Jacqueline Delong.
I have been building a culture of inquiry through action research that provides the foundation for an emerging vision that connects a number of programs and values.
The programs include Early Learning and Parenting Centres, Roots of Empathy, Tribes, Schools Attuned, Mind Shift and Moving Toward Independence. The values are embodied in Special Education Guiding Principles (Grand Erie District School Board, 2003), Inclusive Cultures, Valuing the Other and Inquiry and Reflection (Delong, 2002). The policy of the Board documents its philosophy through its policy statement:
Policy Statement of The Grand Erie District School Board Approved: October 27, 2003 Review Date: October 2006
Special education services and programs are provided to allow students to benefit from the public education system. It is the policy of the Grand Erie District School Board that special education programs are delivered in the most enabling environment that is required to meet the needs of the identified student. Schools and parents/guardians work with resource staff and other involved agencies, using all available information to develop an understanding of each child's strengths and needs, and to program in the most appropriate manner.
Guiding Principles: The alignment of special education services within the Grand Erie District School Board and the integration of new provincial standards prompted a review of existing practices; Guiding Principles assist an organization as it moves from its reality to its vision.
Special education services within the Grand Erie District School Board are guided by the following Principles:
1. Public education is group education.
2. The diversity of our student population is valued and informs program delivery.
3. Fostering an inclusive culture in schools is paramount.
4. Educational resources are allocated to reach educational goals.
5. Resources are organized to support the classroom teacher.
6. The classroom teacher is the greatest resource in the education system.
7. Placement options are guided by least restrictive/most enabling environments for learning.
All of the programs, researched by practitioners in the district, are focused on improving students' learning by building capacity in the system. They reinforce and connect to each other and seek to embody the values in the policy statement. In this paper and in the action research projects (Delong, 2001; Delong, Black and Knill-Griesser, 2002-2006), the communication of the expression of embodied values is enhanced with the visual images of the living relationships. In accounts of their educational influences in their learning individual teacher-researchers clarify the meanings of their embodied values in terms of their living standards of practice. They use these to account for their educational influences in their own learning and in the learning of their students.
Based on the work of Mary Gordon in Toronto schools in the 1980's, I have worked with Sharon Brooks, Executive Director of the 'Kids Can Fly' community organization, to create 19 Early Learning and Parenting Centres, called Launch Pads and Early Years' Centres. Starting in 2003 with one location at Bellview Elementary School, 2-3 have been added each year in partnership with community agencies, the most significant being the Children's Aid Society.
The Toronto District School Board funded their centres from board and foundation budgets and collected data that provided evidence of improvement of children's achievement and parental involvement in schools. "Hard data gathered from over 200 Kindergarten students indicate that young children who had attended the centres with their parents or caregivers were much more prepared for schooling than their peers in the same neighbourhood who had not attended the program" (TDSB Early Literacy Research, 1999 in http://www.roots of empathy.org). In the Grand Erie District School Board, we have contributed the school space and renovation; along with our partners we have also contributed in kind services, toys and equipment; our partners have provided the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) staff.
Launch Pads/Early Years Centres have been designed based on the research of Dr. Fraser Mustard (McCain & Mustard, 1999) The Chicago Perry Project and James Heckman (Heckman, 2000) who have long-term documentation proving the success of children who participate and empirical evidence of the significance of early child development. "The first six years of life set the stage for lifelong learning, behaviour, health and well-being" and "What we envision will be a 'first tier' program for early child development as important as the elementary and secondary school system and the post- secondary school system. It should consist of community-based centres operating at the local level within a provincial framework" (McCain & Mustard, 1999). Early Child Development and Experience-based Brain Development: The Scientific Underpinnings of the Importance of Early Child Development in a Globalized World synthesizes the research on early child development. The paper is now available on the Brookings Institute website, http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200602mustard.htm.
In a recent article responding to the federal government's rescinding of the child care agreement with the provinces of Canada, Dr. Mustard wrote the following article:
Canada Needs Early Child Development Programs
The federal-provincial bilateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreements are core building blocks for community-based early child development programs that involve parents, nurture and stimulate children and bring neighbourhoods together. A key purpose is to improve the life chances of young Canadians at a critical stage in their development and support their lifelong learning, behaviour and health. It is important to Canada in a knowledge-based world because we will need a high-quality population if our country is to be successful in future years. The Agreements are based on QUAD (quality, universality, accessibility and development) principles. They make it possible to include options that allow parents to earn a living and raise a child. Without the Agreements and the investment of the federal dollars, Canada's children lose out, but so does Canada.
Many now recognize that the quality of the future population is critical. Among the champions of early childhood development are James Heckman, a Nobel prize economist and David Dodge, Governor of the Bank of Canada. The evidence is clear: Literacy competency and abilities to cope with our world today demand quality early child development programs. Since the Agricultural Revolution, humans have been engaged in experiments in civilization. Many civilizations collapsed because their population could not adapt to economic, environment and population changes. Today the challenge to adapt to change is probably greater than any other time in our history. We need competent, healthy, high quality populations in all regions of the world. There will have to be a substantial investment in early child development (ECD) to establish high quality competent populations to sustain and build democratic, prosperous, pluralistic sustainable communities. J. Fraser Mustard.
Review this paper and send along your comments to the ECD Review - firstname.lastname@example.org. (Mustard, J.F, 2006).
The Perry Preschool Project made the economic and social effects of early childhood intervention profoundly clear: for every dollar spent, at least $7.00 is returned.
"The Perry Preschool program (Berrueta-Clement, 1984; Schweinhart, 2004, 2005) (Ypsilanti study) in the United States found in a randomized trial that a center program during the school year for three to four year olds on weekday mornings along with a weekly 1-1/2 hour home visit to each mother and child on weekday afternoons during the school year had a significant effect on child development. Fifty-eight of these children were randomized to the preschool program and 65 received no preschool program. The children in the program significantly outperformed the no program group. (Sixty-five percent in the program graduated from high school in comparison to 45% of those not in the program.) A higher proportion of the children in the program went on to university. The children in the program performed much better on the literacy tests.
Another key finding from the Ypsilanti study was the substantial reduction in crime by the individuals (reduced antisocial behaviour) in the intervention group. The reduction in antisocial behaviour was substantial leading to far fewer violent crimes, property crimes, or drug crimes. The economic return to society of the program was $258,888 per participant on an investment of $15,166 per participant -$17.07 per dollar invested. Of that return, $195,621 went to the general public ($12.90 per dollar invested) and $63,256 went to each participant ($4.17 per dollar invested). Of the public return, 88% came from crime savings, 4% came from education savings, 7% came from increased taxes due to higher earnings, and 1% from welfare savings (Schweinhart et al, 2005 in Mustard, 2006).
Dr. Mustard attended the opening of Bellview Elementary School and has promoted the Launch Pad model. In this model, the parent is recognized as the primary and most important teacher and thus, the Early Childhood Educator in the centre is consistent, not intrusive or formal but rather a respectful, approachable and encouraging role model for the family. The program is voluntary, layered-at least four times per week, free of charge and, most important, located in a neighbourhood school.
While we are in the early stages of demonstrating the efficacy of our centres in the Grand Erie District School Board, we have the evidence of the action research projects of 13 ECE's, published in Passion in Professional Practice, Vol. 5 (Delong, Black & Knill-Griesser, 2005) and shared at the Act Reflect Revise Conference, November 11, 2005. The parents have seen the learning and early development. One mother, Lisa Irvine, says of her child's progress, "We started attending this program [Launch Pad at Port Rowan Public School] when Tyler was three. Before he could not print the letters of his name and now he is doing a good job at practising. Tyler's letter recognition is very good. He is able to now recognize his name as well as others that come to the Launch Pad. Overall, I feel with Carol's [ECE] help and family help, Tyler's fine motor skills are progressing very well and I feel the Launch Pad Program has helped Tyler to prepare himself for Junior Kindergarten which he will attend this fall. It is the activities he has practised in the Launch Pad that have helped him with school readiness and properly prepared him for his journey into the educational system" (Chand, C. in Delong et al, 2005, p, 152).
The ECE's have documented development of the children and parents as well as their own growth and improvement. Robyn Berardi talks about the growth in her children: "I have seen children who were not ready for Junior Kindergarten in September blossom into confident, trusting, social young children who are eager to come to the Launch Pad everyday. They consider the Launch Pad 'their school' (Berard in Delong et al, 2005, p. 174)." Tamara Pedley shares her results, "Throughout this process, I have realized the importance of the work that I do. The program provides the opportunity but I provide the environment and facilitating the relationship building. Through my personality, respectful demeanor, role modelling, I support these families in building relationships and a sense of community. This experience has been a wonderful opportunity to focus on my career role, self-reflection and growth in the families and program (Journal Entry, January 3, 2005). I would recommend everyone to participate in Action research if they had an opportunity to do so. It was very rewarding for me to take note of the growth in the families and myself" (Pedley in Delong et al, 2005, p. 192).
One of my motivations is giving people who are not heard their voice (Covey, 2005). To my knowledge these 13 ECE's have completed original work in researching their practice and sharing it publicly in oral and written form. They all report feeling valued, some for the first time in their lives. These action research projects gave them the opportunity to speak with their own voice, "This experience has been a wonderful opportunity to focus on my career role, self-reflection and growth in the families and program." (Pedley in Delong et al, 2005, p. 192), and "This was my first action research project and I must admit that I learned a lot about myself and the program that I implemented in the Launch Pad. It is amazing how much of a difference I have seen in some of the children since the program started" (Perrin, in Delong et al, 2005, p. 169).
Stephen Covey says, "The habit of responding to the inner desire to make a difference, to matter, to extend our influence to the people and causes we most value all begins with a mind set of ATTITUDE, a choice – the choice to use the 'voice of influence' " (Covey, 2004, p. 128). When people say that the problem is 'out there', he says, Any time you think the problem is 'out there', that very thought is the problem" (Covey, 2004, 128).
When I shared this paper with one of my colleagues, Kim Cottingham, Principal-Leader-Special Education Services, shared the following:
"Thanks for sharing the paper, it was a pleasure to read.
There is a line that jumped out at me and deserves attention, I think. One of my motivations is giving people who are not heard their voice (Covey, 2005).
I think this is true for all participants in Action Research. This includes teachers, principals, etc. There are several people who have been provided with a means for not only researching best practice, but are now able to share those findings with their peers. I think that having a voice plays a huge role in maintaining the passion. Each time I see Karin present data on Mind Shift, either her passion seems to intensify or, it could be, that my interest in the message intensifies. In either case, this is based entirely on the 'having a voice'.
Not sure if this makes sense, but the sentence really struck me" (Cottingham, K., email to Delong, J., March 23, 2006).
The ever-present stressor is the sustainability of the centres. The Federal 'Best Start' initiative which would seem to have been a solution to this problem has, in fact, made the sustainability more difficult. The money (which has now been discontinued) could not be used for operations (staff, consumables, utilities) for parenting centres or 'hubs'. As well, potential partners assumed that there would be money from Best Start for Early Child Development Centres and they would not become involved. To this end, Sharon Brooks and I have written a proposal to the Premier of Ontario through our local MPP. "We see an opportunity for the government of Ontario to demonstrate leadership in developing our human capital. The government can and should invest in improving services for children through funding and clear direction of the establishment of Early Child Development and Parenting Centres in elementary schools. A beautiful demonstration of Inter-ministerial collaboration and cooperation, it would involve the Ministries of Education, Children and Youth Services and Health" (Delong & Brooks, 2006, p.2). I continue to search for new partners in order to open more Early Learning and Parenting Centres in pursuit of my vision of a centre in every elementary school. I share my dream with many partners who also want every child to experience the early brain development essential to good health, education and social development for economic security and happiness in life. In education, we would see every child coming to kindergarten ready to learn.
The next program, Roots of Empathy (ROE) (Gordon, 2005), continues the work of child development that the Launch Pad's/Early Years' Centres begin.
thought I would send along a little picture of Lily our ROE baby with
Carter from our grade 3 class.
We were comparing Lily's length with Carter and the doll just as we
did on her first visit. Lily
jumped up and gave Carter a kiss.
This is his smile (Mills, R., email 2/14/06).
Just thought I would send along a little picture of Lily our ROE baby with Carter from our grade 3 class. We were comparing Lily's length with Carter and the doll just as we did on her first visit. Lily jumped up and gave Carter a kiss. This is his smile (Mills, R., email 2/14/06).
Mary Gordon's Roots of Empathy (Gordon, 2005) is an emotional literacy program aimed at reducing childhood aggression and breaking the generational cycle of abuse. The Roots of Empathy Parenting Program for school children was founded by Mary Gordon in 1996 in inner-city schools in Toronto. An evidence-based classroom program that aims to raise social and emotional competence and increase empathy among school children is being practised in schools across Canada and around the world. In addition, the program is having a dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression, bullying and violence among young people. We have validation of the efficacy of this program from action research conducted by school (O'Neil and Misener in Delong et al, 2005) and community staff, from data from children, parents, principals and community members.
Roots of Empathy (Gordon, 2005) was initiated by 'Kids Can Fly' for the Grand Erie District School Board as well as the co-terminous board, The Brant Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board. Certified instructors implement the program in classrooms with Moms and first year babies to develop the emotional intelligence and empathy of the children and staff. This program was validated in the action research project, "How can we use the Roots of Empathy Program to develop the emotional intelligence of students in a Grade 1/2 Class as classroom teacher, Vice-Principal, and Community Partners in Education, in addition to enhancing our own emotional intelligence in our professional practice?" by Patty Bester, Sharon Brooks, Heather Knill-Griesser and John Misener in Passion In Professional Practice, Vol. 4, 2004, Delong et al, 2004). Their findings include the following:
"Patty observed that the majority of students were more comfortable sharing feelings and expressing their thoughts during each visit. Children expanded their emotional literacy vocabulary orally, pictorially and in written form. They also shared real situations of incidents that occurred in their daily lives. Situations were problem solved as they arose, and Patty observed an increase in the confidence of their responses. She noted that there was increased empathy and acceptance in their answers and in their desire to help others (P. Bester, Reflective Journal, January 6, 2004). Decreased behavior incidents, success stories from students, parents, and staff, and students recognizing the temperament of others, creating a caring community of learners are how we know that The Roots of Empathy Program is making a difference at Central Public School" (Delong et al, 2004, p. 277).
The program has grown from 7 Roots of Empathy classrooms in 2004-05 to 10 in 2005-06 in the Grand Erie Board. One of the facilitators trained this year was an elementary school principal, Ruth Mills. The costs of her training, $2900.00 came from my Family of Schools' Contingency budget. Principals in the school system lobby for the program, "Our School Council is requesting that we have the Roots program at our school for the coming y ear. Our Noon Hour Supervisor has just had a baby and would be interested in fulfilling the role of the young mother with a new infant son. Sharon Brooks suggested I contact my superintendent about the possibility of there being some funds available for our school to have someone trained for the program. The cost is $2900.00 to train someone. She will be looking into the possibility of getting some sponsorship if we happen to get the go ahead and have the personnel needed for the program. As we are one of the top compensatory schools, perhaps there might be some monies available to sponsor the program for a primary grade at Bodley. Roots of Empathy has been a highly successful program at Central. I consider it to be a valuable tool in sensitizing our students to the needs of others in the school and city communities" (Code, R. email June 21, 2005).
One of the Moms in the program, Cheryl Smith, wrote about her experience:
"I am writing to first of all thank you for the opportunity for Chloe and I to be a part of the Roots of Empathy program. It is amazing as a mother to watch her baby interact with other children and adults. To see the look in her eyes and the excitement on her face not to mention the excitement of the children in the classroom that we enter once a month. Yesterday, we had a visit at Central School and it was incredible to watch. Chloe was full of smiles and she was so interested in what was happening and on the other side the children in Mr. Misener's class were so in tune to what she was able to do since our last visit. So far it has been totally incredible for the both of us. Not to mention that Patty [ECE] is awesome with both the baby and the classroom children. She is such an amazing person and shows a true love for the program and the children she is dealing with.
I managed to get my hands on a Paris Star and the article was wonderful, I am thrilled that you received more funding to expand this program. I believe after being involved that every school-- every class would benefit from such a wonderful program.
Mr. Misener and Central school have been very open and welcoming to Chloe and I and so many of the other children and the staff come to welcome us upon our visits. The Expositor did show up yesterday and I am hoping the picture and article will again let the community know how wonderful and impactful this program is.
As a professional I was very interested in this program from the beginning but now as a parent.........I now see how valuable these visits are for everyone involved. I only hope that at some point in my career I have the opportunity to become more involved" (email from Sharon Brooks Dec 11, 2004).
The voices of the students are clear in the action research (Bester et al, in Delong et al, 2004) and as well in the National Evaluation Results, 2006,
"At the end of each school year, evaluations are completed by the students who participate in the Roots of Empathy program as well as the class room teachers who host the ROE.
In 2003-2004, over 18,000 students (Grades K to 8) in eight provinces across Canada experienced the Roots of Empathy program. Based on written feedback from over 7,600 students and 323 classroom teachers nation-wide, the results of our evaluations are excellent!
Some highlights from the national report include:
• 96% of teachers found Roots of Empathy beneficial to most or all of their students.
• 97% of students in grades 1 and 2 (primary) said they enjoyed the program, followed by 87% in grades 3-6 (junior), and 69% in grades 7 and 8 (senior).
• Students of all grades believed that they have became much more knowledgeable about babies' milestones and feelings, more understanding about human emotions and more capable of seeing things from others' perspectives.
• Though girls responded more enthusiastically to the program as a whole, the majority of both boys and girls responded favourably.
Penny McVicar, Manager of Victims' Services of Brant comments on the violence connection:
"I was at a conference on Women Killing in London last week. The Roots of Empathy Program was mentioned by several speakers as being an important step toward preventing homicides with future generations. I thought that you would be interested to know that it is being watched by police, courts and others in the area of preventing domestic violence" (email McVicar, P. in email from Sharon Brooks Dec 2, 2004).
There seems to me to be ample evidence that Roots of Empathy is a program that can affect students' empathy, emotional intelligence and attitudes towards aggressive behaviour. In fact, the British Columbia provincial government in Canada clearly understands the connection.
Linda Reid, Minister of State for Early
Childhood in British Columbia, last March committed $1Million funding for Roots
of Empathy in every Kindergarten class in the province and $275,000 for the
Seeds of Empathy programs in preschools. She said, "The Roots of
Empathy program addresses some of the most fundamental values that characterize strong families and responsible, compassionate society…so why not reinforce that emotional awareness by making it part of the classroom experience? Research done through the Human Early Learning Project is showing the project has positive outcomes for children. There's reduction in bullying and aggressive behaviours" (Reid, 2005).
To connect Roots of Empathy to the next program, Tribes (Gibbs, 2001), is to see the extension of the values of empathy and respect from primarily a classroom program to a whole school program working on the same culture of inclusion, mutual respect and acceptance.
First a bit about the program. Tribes (Gibbs, 2001), is a democratic group process, taught through a curriculum. The outcome of the Tribes process is to develop a positive environment that promotes human growth and learning. Tribes builds community through three stages of group development (inclusion, influence, community) using four agreements: attentive listening, appreciation/no put-downs, the right to pass and mutual respect. The process not only establishes a caring environment for cooperative learning, but provides structure for positive interaction and continuity for working groups in the classroom, among staff and administration, and in the broader school community (Gibbs, J. 2001, p. 21). The goal for a Tribes school is: to engage all teachers, (staff), administrators, students, and families in working together as a learning community that is dedicated to caring and support, active participation, and positive expectations for all students" (Gibbs, J. 2001, p. 22).
This program was introduced to the Grand Erie board by Liana Thompson, Special Education Teacher Consultant. She is a trainer and has been the system leader to bring us to our current implementation and research. "Five of our schools are Tribes schools (all staff are trained and using the program); in one secondary school all teachers (teaching grade 9 Applied courses) have been trained; and 20 more schools are waiting to get the training. Tribes TLC Basic training is 24 hours in length and must be conducted by a certified Tribes trainer. To date there are approximately 325 GEDSB staff trained in Tribes (comprised of teachers, administrators, EA's, support staff)" (Thompson, L. 2005). Now that four GEDSB staff have been trained as trainers, the cost of training is limited to the purchase of the text and the cost of releasing the teachers from their classrooms. As with all training programs, finding the budget is an obstacle but not a barrier.
What evidence do I have that it is worth the time and effort? In Liana's proposal for System Innovation funding, she said, "The feedback from the training sessions has been very positive. Both teachers and administrators have articulated that Tribes is a valuable program. It assists with fostering an inclusive culture in the school and community, alleviating discipline issues and promoting self-esteem and the well-being of the whole child" (Thompson, 2005a, p.1). Direct connections have been drawn between improved social behaviours and the Tribes program (Chesswas, Davis, Hanson, 2003). In Passion in Professional Practice Vol. 5, 2005 (Delong et al, 2005), an entire section of the publication, six projects (O. Neil, J.; Misener, J.; Salerno, S.; Turner, J.; Henderson, H.; Brownell, D.), is dedicated to Tribes. Jill Turner reports that, "During the course of the school year I started to realize that not only were the students learning about themselves and changing their behaviour, I was as well. I am now much calmer in dealing with discipline situations, both in the classroom and on the school yard…While initially I was concerned that it took more time to deal with behavioural issues, the time was well spent. At the end of the year I spent very little time dealing with the issues because they were either non-existent or the student had found ways to solve the problems themselves. While the Tribes program is not a panacea, often at least partially due to circumstances outside the classroom, it has given me many tools to empower students to search beyond the conflict to find the cause and to find their own solutions to problems" (Turner in Delong et al, 2005, p. 96). All refer to the efficacy of this program to meet its goals. This group of projects presented their findings at the Act Reflect Revise Conference in Brantford on November 11, 2005.
The next two programs – Schools Attuned and Mind Shift are closely linked philosophically and hold the values of appreciating differences and finding ways to see people's strengths and celebrating them in an inclusive culture.
"Schools Attuned" is a professional development program that gives educators the knowledge and skills to meet the diverse needs of all students in their classrooms and schools. It is based on the expertise and philosophies of pediatrician Dr. Mel Levine (2002), co-founder and co-chair of All Kinds of Minds. The 'Schools Attuned' program reflects the most current, evidence based strategies of professional development that change teaching practice and have a positive impact on student outcomes.
The Grand Erie District School Board Guiding Principles in Special Education (2003) state that the classroom teacher is the greatest resource in the education system. Resources are organized to support the classroom teacher. The Literate Student Framework (2005) states, "effective literacy instruction starts with the needs of the learner: Explicit instruction in literacy is critical to the development of the literate student. Instruction must target the learning style and needs of each student. Teachers must be supported to develop this expertise"
The development of teacher expertise in teaching literacy and numeracy crosses all boundaries in the strategic planning of the school board. "Schools Attuned" is a program that is applicable to the development of the knowledge and skills to provide literacy instruction to all students, whether, they are special education, at risk, compensatory education or all other students. In Grand Erie, 183 staff, from all levels and a variety of assignments, have been trained in the program. See the following graphs that demonstrate that the program is touching the lives of staff, and thus students, from all grades and classroom experiences.
World wide, when asked to compare the Schools Attuned program to other professional development programs, more than 75 percent of participants found Schools Attuned to be more useful to their work than other programs they had attended (2004 Participant Evaluation Executive Summary at http://www.allkindsofminds.org).
Schools Attuned curriculum assists teachers in understanding how students learn by demystifying the learning profile of a student that they work with. Teachers also receive evidence-based strategies that can be used to assist students. Schools Attuned provides the teachers an opportunity to be part of a large professional learning community. The structure that is used in Grand Erie recommends that groups of a least 3 to 4 teachers/administrator(s) or divisions or full departments or grades from one school attend to train as a team and then
continue to support each other in a school professional learning community.
During the 2005-06 year, with additional funding from the Ministry of Education we offered 75 spots, two generalist paths and one subject specialist path. In the expressions of interest, we received over 150 applications. Four subject specialist paths have been offered in Canada to date. The course in Grand Erie is the only course that has run at capacity (25). There was also a waiting list for the course. In the expressions of interest data for this course, we received feedback on the course and its value.
"As the principal of a compensatory education school, my staff and I hope to be eligible to participate in the Schools Attuned program, Generalist path in order to become more adept in applying the Guiding Principles of Special Education in our school. Throughout the year, we continue to refer to the book as we analyze the various parts of our school plan. As the staff have become familiar with Dr. Mel Levine's work and now commit to his philosophy, I believe that the next step in our school growth is to complete the full Schools Attuned program. I believe that our school has begun the process to become "attuned" and hope that the beginning steps we have taken to understand Dr. Mel Levine will assist in the process of selecting our school." and "This would be a great opportunity for our school to have this focus as we run a very inclusive model of special education (Laidlaw, S. Report to Executive Council March 22, 2006).
One of our major limitations to full implementation is the cost. The training costs $1,000 per participant. The $1,000 covers preparation materials, a book, course materials, five day course, 10 hour follow up, follow up material, access to the Schools Attuned website, which includes access to parent fair, and parent modules that anyone who has completed the Schools Attuned training may use. To date we have spent over $ 183, 000 in course cost only. Additional costs include occasional teacher coverage, water, snacks, and lunches.
Are the costs worth the investment? In 2003-4 and 2004-05 school years, Dr. Levine's curriculum was implemented in Margaret Macleod's Junior Learning Disabilities self-contained classroom at Banbury Heights Elementary School in Brantford. Her action research question was, 'How can I best prepare my students so that when they re-enter a regular classroom they will feel good about themselves and experience academic success?' Here is an excerpt from the project:
"Dr. Levine's philosophy is akin to my own. Having a learning disability (learning difference) is a problem but not an excuse. It means you have to work harder, maybe differently, and probably longer to be successful, but it will be worth it. The first section of the Levine curriculum deals with how the brain works and differences in thinking. I was nervous about tackling the brain vocabulary, however, the way Dr. Levine interacted with the children on his video invited my students to become involved. They were enthusiastic about asking "Wondering Questions" and learning about the brain.
When Marlie was having a difficult time following directions in the correct order she said, "I am having a problem with my left cerebral hemisphere!" The vocabulary was difficult but not overwhelming. They came up with strategies (a word frequently used in our class) to help themselves remember various parts of the brain. Mathew suggested, "well, a motor is in the front of a car and it makes all the other parts move so the motor cortex is in the frontal lobe and it helps make all my body parts move." They had other suggestions for cerebellum and hypothalamus.
I began reading "All Kinds of Minds" written by Dr. Levine (2002). This is the story of five junior age students and their various types of strengths and weaknesses. As we read each chapter during the school year, the students were able to relate to the difficulties of the students in the book. They also took to heart some of the strategies that were suggested. As we progressed through the school year the students participated in curriculum activities designed to focus the students on various learning skills. Each module gave many understandable and enforceable strategies to help the students reach their learning potential. During a language activity Michael L. was able to finish with very good results ahead of many of the others. They were amazed to which Michael responded, "I just focused. I knew that was the key to getting it done." (WOW!)
Another time Michael R. was struggling to remember a word. He said "I keep trying to get it into my long term memory, but it hasn't gone yet."
One time when I was saving something from a file to one, in another program, I had a mental block. The kids were highly amused at having to help me and made all sorts of comments about retrieving the information from the correct file in my memory bank. Some of them even wrote about that in their Friday journals. They are keeping me on my toes! I tell them that they have to activate as many neurons as possible when they are young because as they age - like me - some of the brain cells seem to go to sleep" (McLeod in Delong et al, 2004 p. 167-168).
The "Schools Attuned" philosophy reinforces the Special Education Guiding Principles (2003) especially "The diversity of our student population is valued and informs program delivery". It emphasizes teaching to the students' "learning differences" (Levine, 2002). In her research, "How can I support Teachers to improve student learning through my practice as a Teacher Consultant, by sharing the educational philosophy of Dr. Mel Levine?", Carol MacKenzie wrote: "Finally, the most valuable aspect of this approach for me was the 'infusion of optimism' it brings to the way educators view the futures of children who struggle. The shift from old to new thinking can be encapsulated into the shining vision that allows me to see children who I previously saw as being 'at risk' as now being ' at hope'. Our schools present many challenges to the children whose learning profiles include weaknesses in those areas valued above all else – language, memory, and higher order cognition. But the shift to accepting their learning profiles as being different rather than disabled, and the acknowledgement and fostering of their strengths and abilities could mean that these children will survive their journey through school and come out the other side intact and buoyant about their futures" (MacKenzie in Delong et al, 2003, p. 139-140).
It is this vision of hope and optimism that I am working to build into all that we do as educators and community partners. The next piece of the puzzle to this vision is the Mind Shift program.
Mind Shift is a 4-day program based on the work of Dr. Mel Levine for junior/intermediate aged students with learning disabilities which was created by Grand Erie staff – Karin Mertins and Sharon Laidlaw. It is original and much interest from other boards and the Ministry of Education is focusing on it (presentation Nov, 2005, Sept, 2006). In addition to inviting classroom teachers/LRTs to the final day of the conference, a 4-5 person implementation team for each area of the board provides sustained support to students and teachers.
This learning opportunity is intended to: develop self advocacy and assistive technology skills (text-to-speech and word predication software) for participating students; help students with learning to use ISA1 equipment (this equipment consists of assistive technology such as laptop computers, voice to text software, scanners and printers); trial assistive technology for students being considered for ISA1 claims; enhance the capacity of schools to use assistive technology in daily programming; provide an opportunity for central support staff to further their understanding of the application of assistive technology for ISA1 eligible students.
Research on the program offered in 2005 and 2006 validates its efficacy. We have quantitative data from surveys: "The data indicates that the students who participated are feeling more successful, are asking for help more, are better prepared for school, and are using the organizational strategies that they were taught at Mind Shift. (see check-up for students)" (Laidlaw in Delong, 2005). We have validation through the voices of the teachers. "The following was shared with Dale McManus by two teachers at one school. "R's productivity in the class and capacity to complete his work on his own has improved. His self-concept as a learner has also increased (conversation with Dale McManus January 4, 2005)" (Laidlaw in Delong, 2005).
This last program is also an original program created by Grand Erie staff – Peggy Blair and Anne Kaiser to increase the independence of students by gradually reducing the support of staff. The classrooms in which Educational Assistants (EA's) work are ones where there are students not able to function without support. The purpose of the program is to give the EA's the understanding and skills to support students with intensive supports to start and then gradually fade that support so that they become independent.
The in-service includes the identification of the roles and responsibilities of educational assistants. The Moving Toward Independence model includes a blueprint for providing and withdrawing educational assistant support - how to fade prompts and how to teach using a task analysis. It involves learning structures that promote independence: visual supports, data collection and behavioural interventions.
One of the publications that is used to guide and track the acquisition of life skills is Grand Erie District School Board The Life Skills Planner, again a book created by Grand Erie staff. Part of building a culture where students feel included is teaching them the skills to be a contributing part of that culture. In this intensive 3 day program Educational Assistants are trained through demonstration, modelling, videotaping and coaching to provide assistance to high needs students. On the 3rd day, classroom teachers and principals attend for a half day to learn to work as a team in supporting these students. Each of the last two years approximately 100 Educational Assistants and 40 teachers have been trained.
The research that we have on this program is based on the feedback we have received from EA's, principals and teachers. To date, we have no action research on it. "The feedback from the in-service sessions has been very positive. Both teachers and educational assistants have articulated that this is something they wish they had received training in during pre-service programs. It was also stated many times that this was one of the most valuable in-services ever provided by the board, as it gave participants a new skill set. As well, staff has been able to implement the Transactional Model of Support by the end of the in-service" (Blair, P., 2005).
It goes without saying that programs like this are costly – for 100 EA's and 40 teachers each year the cost is $73,000.00, mostly in coverage for the staff. Again it is worth the cost not only for the increased skill of the staff but also in the improved outcomes for students.
It is no great revelation that writing affirms, challenges and often transforms our view of the world. Such is the case for me. My ontology has been transformed once again (Delong, 2002) as I reflected on the way that I work with tremendously talented professional educators, some of whom are mentioned in this paper. We are improving the world for children in this district in many ways. The evidence of this influence is captured in the five volumes of Passion In Professional Practice (Delong, 2001; Delong, Black, Knill-Griesser, 2002-2006) available at http://www.actionresearch.ca and from the Grand Erie website http://www.gedsb.on.ca -ecentre -MMC Pandora. It is also evident in the strength of the voices of the action researchers presenting their knowledge at the Ontario Educational Research Council and Act Reflect Revise Conferences. Jack Whitehead and I have supported and encouraged these researchers for eleven years and are planning, at the time of writing, for another conference in Brantford in the fall of 2006. In my world there is no hierarchy of knowledge and every time I hear the voices of the preschool, elementary and secondary teacher-researchers, I am amazed by the depth of their knowing and the clarity of their voices.
The links among these programs are the values that underpin them – valuing the other, teaching the students the way they can learn, building a culture of inquiry, reflection and inclusion, giving voice and improving the world for children. My vision is of every child coming to school ready to learn, learning at school in an empathetic environment where his/her learning differences are celebrated and like Carol MacKenzie I want all children to be seen as ' at hope' (MacKenzie in Delong et al, 2003, p.140).
Whitehead will now focus on his intention of researching connections between the systemic influences of my educational leadership in contributing to the development of a culture of inquiry and the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning, ie. their living educational theories. This will include an exploration of these connections in terms of socio-cultural and activity theory and living educational theories.
Connecting Living Educational Theories and Socio-cultural and Activity Theory – Jack Whitehead
I am aware of making the following assumptions as I begin to provide an evidence-based explanation of the systemic influences of Delong's educational leadership in creating a culture of enquiry in relation to the living educational theories of practitioner-researchers.
i) For something to count as an evidence-based explanation it needs to be connected to an assertion, to a statement from a belief or theory.
ii) I take educational leadership to imply that the leader is ahead of others in communicating their values, skills and understandings and that others are learning.
iii) Explanations of systemic influence can build on Marshall's (2004) learning about living systemic thinking:
iv) Making public the explanations of educational influences in learning that constitute the living educational theories flowing through web-space is contributing to the development of a globalizing culture of enquiry.
v) The inclusion of an understanding of this globalizing culture of enquiry within socio-cultural and activity theory could serve to revitalize this theory and rehabilitate it from the deadening and crippling addiction to a logic that excludes living contradictions from its explanations while abiding by the law of excluded middle, ie – everything is either A or not-A.
I will now address the implications of each assumption in researching connections between the systemic influences of an educational leader in contributing to the development of a culture of inquiry and the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning.
i) For something to count as an evidence-based explanation it needs to be connected to an assertion, to a statement from a belief or theory.
I do not want to repeat the detailed analysis of the connections I have made elsewhere between evidence-based explanations from self-study and assertions from beliefs or theories. These connections have been explored in terms of five questions about evidence in relation to the nature of knowledge and theory, of values-based standards of judgement, of educational research methodology, of a logic of educational enquiry and of educational influence:
Š Is there evidence of the generation and testing of educational theories from the embodied knowledge of s-step researchers?
Š Is there evidence of the transformation of the embodied values of the s-step researcher into the standards of judgement that can be used to test the validity of s-step accounts?
Š Is there evidence of the emergence of educational research methodologies as distinct from a social science methodology in s-step enquiries?
Š Is there evidence of a logic of educational enquiry?
Š Is there evidence of educational influence in educating oneself, in the learning of others and in the education of social formations. (Whitehead, 2004a)
However, I do want to make a point about my belief, following Polanyi (1958), that the imposition of objectivist frameworks on explanations of education have become part of crippling mutilations in thinking:
I have arrived at the opening of this last chapter without having suggested any definite theory concerning the nature of things; and I shall finish this chapter without having presented any such theory. This book tries to serve a different and in a sense perhaps more ambitious purpose. Its aim is to re-equip men with the faculties which centuries of critical thought have taught them to distrust. The reader has been invited to use these faculties and contemplate thus a picture of things restored to their fairly obvious nature. This is all the book was meant to do. For once men have been made to realize the crippling mutilations imposed by an objectivist framework – once the veil of ambiguities covering up these mutilations has been definitely dissolved – many fresh minds will turn to the task of reinterpreting the world as it is, and as it then once more will be seen to be. (Polanyi, 1958, p. 381)
My point is that the living and inclusional explanations offered in this presentation have emerged from such a reinterpretation and require, for their comprehension, an understanding of inclusionality as a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries (Rayner, 2006). In this understanding, propositional and dialectical logics are related inclusionally within the explanations of living educational theories (Whitehead and McNiff, 2006).
ii) I take educational leadership to imply that the leader is ahead of others is communicating their values, skills and understandings and that others are learning.
In what ways is Delong ahead of others?
The award of a doctorate to Delong in 2002 by the University of Bath for her inquiry, How can I improve my practice as a superintendent of schools and create my own living educational theory? is evidence that Delong is ahead of many others in understanding how she has improved her professional practice and created her own living educational theory. We share the understanding that a living educational theory is an explanation of one's educational influence in learning. This can be an educational influence in one's own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of a social formation. Delong's abstract to her thesis describes her originality in terms of the systematic way that she transforms her embodied educational values into educational standards of practice and judgement in the creation of her living educational theory. She is ahead of many others in her understandings of how to transform embodied values into living standards of judgement. Her doctorate also shows that she is ahead in terms of her understandings of how communicate the valuing of others in her professional practice in building a culture of inquiry, in reflection, in scholarship and in creating knowledge:
One of the basic tenets of my philosophy is that the development of a culture for improving learning rests upon supporting the knowledge-creating capacity in each individual in the system. Thus, I start with my own. This thesis sets out a claim to know my own learning in my educational inquiry, 'How can I improve my practice as a superintendent of schools?' Out of this philosophy emerges my belief that the professional development of each teacher rests in their own knowledge-creating capacities as they examine their own practice in helping their students to improve their learning. In creating my own educational theory and supporting teachers in creating theirs, we engage with and use insights from the theories of others in the process of improving student learning. The originality of the contribution of this thesis to the academic and professional knowledge-base of education is in the systematic way I transform my embodied educational values into educational standards of practice and judgement in the creation of my living educational theory. In the thesis I demonstrate how these values and standards can be used critically both to test the validity of my knowledge-claims and to be a powerful motivator in my living educational inquiry. The values and standards are defined in terms of valuing the other in my professional practice, building a culture of inquiry, reflection and scholarship and creating knowledge.
She is also ahead in the use of narrative in connecting her standards of practice to emotion and relationships. Delong demonstrated this in a presentation to ICTR in 2000 as she outlined in her paper proposal for the conference:
Using narrative, Delong (2000) will clarify her standards of practice in the course of their emergence in her practice over her five year study of her life as a Superintendent. She will examine the importance of emotion and relationships in clarifying the meanings of her standards. The standards will be presented in terms of the values which give meaning and purpose to her life in education.
What is Delong seeking to influence in her educational leadership?
I think that the evidence above shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Delong is ahead of many others in terms of the above. But what is Delong seeking to influence in her educational leadership? I think it is clear from the final sentence in the Abstract to her thesis that Delong is seeking to improve her professional practice in building a culture of inquiry that values reflection, scholarship and creating knowledge. In relation to the teachers she is working with what this means to me is that Delong is seeking to contribute to the development of a culture of inquiry in which teacher-researchers produce their own explanations, for their educational influences in learning, that value reflection and scholarship in the creation of their own living educational theories. Some of the evidence that this is what Delong is seeking to influence can be accessed in the five volumes of Passion in Professional Practice, accessible from http://www.actionresearch.ca/.
Over the past three decades of participating in and observing educational innovations, I have been struck by how projects in particular contexts demonstrate that something is both desirable and possible. I have also been struck by the problems of moving the possible into the probable (Whitehead, J., 2003) in the sense of a systemic transformation. In the creation and sustaining of a culture of inquiry, Delong is demonstrating a systemic influence.
iii) Explanations of systemic influence can build on Marshall's learning about living systemic thinking.
I have learnt that living systemic thinking is long-term, emergent, never-ending activity, with any sense-making always open to re-vision as action, reflection and feedback unfold. Inquiry is key to living systemic thinking and takes many forms, being self- reflective but also systemically engaged, and means taking strategic initiatives to learn more and track emerging data, knowing that I will never fully know. So, I need disciplines for interpreting and then acting/inquiring again. There is no "system" to know. Rather, my use of systemic thinking is fluid, blurred, emergent; a sense of 'organization' appearing in the moment only to dissolve or take on a similar pattern in a different form. There are significant, interesting questions about how to judge effectiveness in living systemic thinking, and how imponderable this is; again a matter for active inquiry in each specific situation. (Marshall, 2004, p. 325)
I agree with Marshall that there are significant and interesting questions about how to judge effectiveness in living systemic thinking and that this is a matter for active inquiry in each specific situation. The question I am addressing here is:
How valid is the following evidence-based explanation of the systemic influences of Delong's educational leadership in relation to the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning?
In construction my explanation for the systemic influences of Delong's educational leadership I want to focus on the explanation she gives herself before I seek to show how the explanation can be enhanced with the relationally dynamic awareness of inclusionality.
In 2001, as a member of an international panel of experts on teacher research, Delong was asked how she sustained her support for teacher-researcher. Here is a still image from the video-clip of her own explanation. I shall return to this when considering the influence of the embodied expression of her values and the video-clip of her answer to the question:
The video-clip plays in Quicktime and is 77Mb so will take several minutes to download with broadband.
I now want to provide, using the idea of a video-narrative, an additional explanation for Delong's systemic influence in relation to the lived experience and understanding of the expression of embodied values and living inclusional standards of judgement. I want to do this because I believe that the idea of inclusionality as a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries (Rayner, 2006) will support Delong's desire to enhance her own understandings and the understandings of others in the building and sustaining of a culture of inquiry. I will introduce the significance of a video-narrative in this explanation through the ideas of Conolly (2002) as she distinguishes scribal literacy (the form of literacy traditional used in academic texts) from representations of the dynamic vitality of a performance (such as the life-affirming and dynamic energy being expressed through the video-clip).
Conolly makes the point that academic research is historically a scribal/literate exercise of a specific and high order, for a number of reasons. She says that scribal literacy fixes large amounts of information outside of the human author(s) for dissemination across time and space and that it also allows the revision of a text before transmission, thus providing for refinement and concision of complex thinking, as well as allowing the modification and further refinement, revision and concision of the text even after its original transmission. For Conolly, scribal literacy allows the identification and prescription of appropriate genres or structures by group consensus, where the decision-making group is that body of people closely associated with the production of writings in the relevant genre. She says that it also allows the writing to exist on paper independently of its author, and for this reason becomes a defined and identifiable entity in its own right, which can be analysed and critiqued independently of its author(s) and in and on its own terms; scribal literacy frees human memory from the task of extensive record keeping, the benefits of which are ambiguous and debatable.
While for Conolly the scribal record captures and records aspects of the linguistic elements of the performance, i.e. the actual words are recorded, it does not, she believes, record the dynamic vitality of the performance as an indivisible whole manifest in: the kinaesthetic features, i.e. movement and gesture; the spatial features, i.e. line, form, shape; the paralinguistic and non-verbal aural features, i.e. non-verbal sounds, pitch, inflection, timbre, emphasis, vocal modulation; the temporal features, i.e. pace, pause; the interactive features, i.e. the responses of the audience:
The gestual-visual/oral-aural mode is more immediate and spontaneous than the literate mode. Its immediacy arises in the first instance from the performer's relationship with him/herself and the performance, the space and time in which the performer performs and from the face-to-face interaction between performer and audience during the performance. This influences the spontaneity of the performance: the performer can adjust his/her performance immediately according to his/her own responses with him/herself simultaneously with the responses from the audience. In effect, it can be argued that each performance is the unique product of the interactions within the performer and between performer and audience, and is therefore the product of simultaneous personal introspection and group authorship. In this wise, multiple authorships and occasions of authorship are intrinsic features of the oral tradition. A record of such a group-authored performance is only complete, faithful and authentic if it accounts for the performed text within its performance context and taking the audience engagement into account... (Conolly, 2002)
I now want to explain the systemic influences of Delong's educational leadership in relation to the explanations of teacher-researchers of their educational influences in learning, using the embodied values and understandings being expressed by Delong in her video-taped responses to the question about sustaining the culture of inquiry with teacher-researchers.
I want to focus on the last few seconds of the clip where Delong is expressing her love for what she is doing within a flow of life-affirming energy as she recounts the story of the engaged and supportive responses of colleagues for an individual teacher who has expressed an interest in doing some classroom research into her own practice. One of the benefits of Quicktime is that you can move the clip quickly, backwards and forwards to particular places. If you move the clip to the end, with the above image, I believe you will feel the expression of love for what Delong is doing, in a flow of life-affirming energy and pleasure. Without the video-narrative I cannot see how these embodied expressions can be adequately communicated. In saying this I believe I am supporting Eisner's points about the need to develop alternative forms of data representation (Eisner, 1993) while being aware of their problems and perils (Eisner, 1997).
What I believe Delong is expressing in her performance is much more than would be communicated in the scribal record of what she is saying. As Conolly says the scribal record misses the dynamic vitality of the performance. In what she is doing as she responds to the question, Delong is in touch with and communicates the pleasure, energy and love for what she is doing in education. Without such video-narratives I do not believe that the meanings of such relationally dynamic values can be adequately represented in a valid explanation of educational influence. In explaining the systemic influences of Delong's educational leadership in relation to the explanations produced by teacher researchers of their influences in learning, I am suggesting that such video-narratives get much closer then scribal records and explanations, to the dynamic vitality of the values and feelings being expressed in educational relationships. I am claiming that such narratives will be needed in the development of valid explanations of the systemic influences of educational leaders in relation to their own learning and in the learning of others.
The significance of relational and dialogic ways of being and influencing have already been addressed through multi-media accounts using digital technology. These accounts (Farren, 2005 a & b, 2006; Naidoo, 2005; Whitehead, 2005, 2006) have enabled the plural structures and interconnecting and branching networks of inclusional relationships in self-study accounts to be represented and understood. Delong and I are agreed that a valid explanation of what Delong has achieved in her educational leadership and in her research into the educational influences of her leadership in sustaining a culture of inquiry with teacher researchers, requires an understanding of the expression of her embodied relational values and living standards of judgement. In relation to the idea of objectivity, we work with Popper's idea that objectivity is established through intersubjective criticism and agreement. We are also agreed that a video-narrative that shows the expression of her embodied values, feelings and life-affirming energy in her love for what she does as she responds receptively to others, is also needed for the development of our understandings of the nature of the systemic influence of her educational leadership with others. I hope that I have emphasized sufficiently the relational ontology and epistemology that connects Delong's systemic influence with the living educational theories of the practitioner-researchers whose accounts Delong has been supporting with ideas, policies, energy and financial resources.
The opening of global communication channels through web-space has now opened the possibility, as Delong's work is already flowing through web-space, of it contributing to a globalizing culture of enquiry. This possibility is the focus of my fourth assumptions.
iv) Making public the explanations of educational influences in learning that constitute living educational theories flowing through web-space is contributing to the development of a globalizing culture of enquiry.
As I use the word, 'culture' means two things in particular. First of all it means all those practices, like the arts of description, communication, and representation, that have relative autonomy from the economic, social, and political realms and that often exist in aesthetic forms, one of whose principal aims is pleasure. Included, of course, are both the popular stock of lore about distant parts of the world and specialized knowledge available in such learned disciplines as ethnography, historiography, philology, sociology, and literary history…..
Second, and almost imperceptible, culture is a concept that includes a refining and elevating element, each society's reservoir of the best that has been known and thought. As Matthew Arnold put it in the 1860s…. In time, culture comes to be associated, often aggressively, with the nation of the state; this differentiates 'us' from 'them', almost always with some degree of xenophobia. Culture in this sense is a source of identity, and a rather combative one at that, as we see in recent 'returns' to culture and tradition. (Said, pp. xii-xiv, 1993)
I work with Said's meanings in my understanding of culture. In placing the cultural artefact of this presentation in the flow of web-space, as well as have placed in this flow of web-space the living theories of practitioner-researchers at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/living.shtml, I feel pleasure in relating to the aesthetic form and content of the accounts through which individuals show their arts of living. I believe that the living theories flowing through web-space are cultural artefacts because they include a refining and elevating element that contributes to society's reservoir of the best that has been known and thought. I am thinking of the contributions to cultural formations and their transformations of living theories that communicate the meaning of good and productive lives that carry hope for the future of humanity.
I am wondering if sociocultural and activity theories, in producing valid explanations of the sociocultural activities of individuals could enhance the validity of their explanations by including such living educational theories of individuals within their own theories. Could such an inclusion have a generative influence in the development of sociocultural and activity theory? I am aware that my assumption that the flow of living educational theories through web-space is contributing to the development of a globalizing culture of enquiry needs further research in relation to my fifth assumption.
v) The inclusion of an understanding of this globalizing culture of enquiry within sociocultural theory could serve to revitalize this theory and rehabilitate it from the deadening and crippling addiction to a logic that excludes living contradictions and the living logics and values of inclusionality from its explanations.
Drawing on Polanyi's point about the crippling mutilations in thinking produced by the imposition of objectivist frameworks I want to point to the kind of addiction to the logic of such frameworks that supports such crippling mutilations. For example, in his analysis of sociocultural theory Sawyer points out that socioculturalists are divided on two of the foundational theoretical claims of the paradigm: a process ontology of the social world; and the inseparability of the individual and the group. In his review of sociocultural theorists he claims that there is agreement that the individual and group cannot be studied in isolation but only in situated practice and that the individual and the group are inextricably linked:
"The theoretical differences relate to analytic, or methodological separability, and there are two possible positions on this issue: either individual properties and group properties of situated practice can be analytically distinguished, or the cannot. If they are inseparable, then theoretical consistency with a process ontology is assured; however, one is prevented from any form of empirical study that presumes that properties of specific individuals can be isolated, even when they are studied in context" (Sawyer, p. 300, 2002)
Drawing on Rayner's idea of inclusionality as a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries there is a third possibility in addition to the two that Sawyer shows that he is aware of. The third possibility of inclusionality works with a both/and logic and can remain connected to the severing implications of the law of excluded middle that states that everything is either A or not-A and the Law of Contradiction that holds that two mutually exclusive statements cannot both be true simultaneously. For Rayner's demonstration of the severing influence of the law of excluded middle and his advocacy of inclusional see the cultural artefact:
http://www.jackwhitehead.com/rayner1sor.mov (36.89 Mb)
Cultural artefacts, showing this third possibility in action, in the form of inclusional living theories are now flowing through web-space (Delong, 2002; Hartog, 2004; Church, 2004; Naidoo, 2005). What I am suggesting is that the flow through web-space of living theories, such as Delong's, are cultural artefacts that are now available for others who have access to the appropriate technology, to use in giving a form to their own lives and learning. Others could contribute to this flow of cultural artefacts by making their living educational theories available through the flow of web-space. I am thinking of these cultural artefacts as the evidence-based explanations of individuals who are accounting for their lives and educational influences in learning in terms of the values, skills and understandings that they believe carry hope for the future of humanity and their own.
In emphasising the role of the living educational theories of individuals as cultural artefacts in social transformations through education I am aware of accepting Burkitt's point about the work of Seve on personality. Burkitt says that one of the greatest contributions that Seve made to the debate about the social formation of selves, is demonstrating how the personality is a moment in the totality of social relations (Burkitt, p. 135, 1991). I also agree with Burkitt's point that Seve concentrated on the capacities learned in social labour and omitted the capacities developed in individuals through culture:
If we ignore cultural capacities formed in the social habitus as a whole, we tend to reduce human experience to a one-dimensional framework, just like the structuralists and post-structuralists who saw individuals as the product of discursive structures and ignored the social relations and activities of individuals through which the real world is transformed. (ibid,)
By enhancing the flow through web-space of cultural artefacts in the form of living educational theories it might be possible to transform the social habitus so that the values, skills and understandings that carry hope for the future of humanity can become even more powerful in individual and social transformations through education. As I write this I am wondering about the potential transformatory power of the African indigenous knowledge of Ubuntu (Bhengu, 1996; NCSL, 2004; Hopkins, 2005, Whitehead, 2004b, 2006) to transform the global social habitus. Ubuntu stresses the vital communications in relational ways of being in community in such translations as 'I am because we are'.
I am aware of the dangers of colonising ideas from other cultures in a way that distorts their meaning. I am thinking here of Bhengu's (1996, p. 54) point that there is every danger of Ubuntu being hijacked and trivialised. I am also aware of the dangers of inappropriately imposing such ideas as explanatory principles for my own educational influences and for the educational influences of others. To help me avoid such dangers I bear in mind the work of Madeline Church (2004) and Margaret Farren (2005). I bear Church's ideas in mind because of the way she demonstrates an awareness of the colonising dangers of bullying as she responds in way that contributes to making space for individuals and communities to flourish:
Through this research I am developing new ways of knowing about what we are doing as reflective practitioners, and by what standards we can invite others to judge our work. I am, through my practice, making space for us to flourish, as individuals and communities. In this way I use the energy released by my response to bullying in the service of transformation. (Church, 2004)
I bear Farren's (2005) ideas in mind because of the way she shows how to exercise 'power with' rather than 'power over' in the creation of a pedagogy of the unique through a web of betweenness:
I clarify the meaning of my embodied values in the course of their emergence in my practice-based research. My values have been transformed into living standards of judgement that include a 'web of betweenness' and a 'pedagogy of the unique'. The 'web of betweenness' refers to how we learn in relation to one another and also how ICT can enable us to get closer to communicating the meanings of our embodied values. I see it as a way of expressing my understanding of education as 'power with', rather than 'power over', others. It is this 'power with' that I have tried to embrace as I attempt to create a learning environment in which I, and practitioner-researchers, can grow personally and professionally. A 'pedagogy of the unique' respects the unique constellation of values and standards of judgement that each practitioner-researcher contributes to a knowledge base of practice. (Farren, 2005)
It is my contention that the world would be a better place to be if the values, skills and understandings flowing through web-space in the living educational theories, were being realized more fully in a globalised social habitus. These living educational theories are socio-cultural artefacts produced through activities and enquiries of the kind, 'How do I improve what I am doing?' They been legitimated in the Academy as valid forms of educational knowledge and theory. Whether they extend their contributions to sociocultural transformations depends on their use-value in supporting the creating and sharing of your own living educational theories as you account to yourself for the lives you are living and share your explanations for your educational influences in your learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations.
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