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Diane Ravitch's Blog: Michael Fullan: The Right Drivers for School Success in the 21st Century

Michael Fullan has written an excellent analysis of the best way to redesign school systems after the pandemic. This paper deserves the time it takes to read. Don’t read just the bullet points. Read it all. 

Fullan recognizes that the pandemic has shaken up many assumptions about the status quo. He persuasively argues that the status quo in education is “driven” by failed ideas.

He writes: 

The four new wrong drivers are not completely wrong. It is just that if left alone they take us in a negative direction. Let’s name them and give them nicknames (in parentheses).

  1. Academics Obsession (selfish)
  2. Machine Intelligence (careless)
  3. Austerity (ruthless), and
  4. Fragmentation (inertia).

    They have been operating for 40 years,
    and with ever-growing intensity. Together they are the ‘bloodless paradigm’, lacking care, empathy, and civic awareness – the things that make us humans. The new right drivers, by contrast, capture and propel the human spirit. Again these are offered with nicknames.

What does he propose instead? 

  1. Wellbeing and Learning (essence)
  2. Social Intelligence (limitless)
  3. Equality Investments (dignity), and 
  4. Systemness (wholeness).
    They are the human paradigm and presently constitute a work in progress. We have barely begun to tap their potential.

ƒFullan’s provocative paper deserves your full attention. The path we have taken in education for the past four decades has exhausted whatever promise it might have had. After the past two decades of legislated testing, accountability, competition, and privatization, we see few of any signs of improvement. The more we stick with the status quo, the more rancid it is. It is time for fresh thinking. Here is a good place to begin to think anew.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Network for...