ITEM 1: PART 1: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SETTING: DRAWING ON THE ACTIVITIES AND REFLECTIONS The world is at the cusp of an information age. These changes have catapulted the industrial age into a knowledge age. This transition from the industrial to the knowledge age has come with its inherent challenges. This article will examine how organizations are being affected by rapid change and complex challenges associated with these transitions. The article will further examine the industrial age embedded in operation and practices of the organization.
a) How the Elementary School is affected by rapid change and complex challenges associated with the move from Industrial Age to Knowledge Age In the elementary school, where I teach, children are in their budding stages of education. This makes it the most liable to rapid changes associated with the knowledge age. The knowledge era is characterized by technological advancements. The use technology in teaching has necessitated frequent adjustment of the qualifications of teachers in elementary school. There are inadequate teaching staffs that are competent in the latest technology that can enhance learning.
The competitive landscape coupled with the rapid of increase in the number of students interested in technical and science oriented subjects is a big challenge. According to (Halal & Taylor, 1999), “The knowledge era is characterized by a new competitive landscape driven by globalization, technology, deregulation, and democratization (Uhl-Bien & Russ, 2008, p. 189) On the social front, globalization has led to a rapid growth in the number of children drawn from different cultural backgrounds. Even though, this has helped debunk the fallacies that breed racial prejudice; the challenges that affect the interaction between children in our multiracial elementary school remain insurmountable.
Most children remain marginalized by the very education system that is meant to create social justice and equality because all students are assessed based on Standard Written English (SWE). There is a challenge in developing student-centered pedagogy and assessment tools that factor in the diversity of our students. There is a need to overcome the rigidity in lexicography in the classroom and embrace a versatile approach to teaching. There are inadequate staffs who can act as interpreters for children who do not understand English as a mode of communication.
Teachers need to remain sensitive to the needs of children from different backgrounds and adopt means of education that is responsive to the needs of students (Whitby, 2007). b) Industrial age assumptions embedded in operation and current practices of the elementary school There are several industrial age assumptions embedded in the operations and current practices of my school. This ranges from the approach to teaching and learning to the organizational and leadership structures of my school. At my workplace, the education system assumes that all children in the school are inadequate.
The educational system fails to recognize the unique talents and aspirations of every child. English language is a compulsory subject. Children who are unable to develop adequate skills are branded failures, and the school puts them through intensive training sessions to fix these inadequacies. The belief that all children are inadequate, and it is the duty of the school to fix them has left some students in limbo despite enormous talents. Some students who are gifted in sports are forced to go through formal training in courses that are not contributory to their careers in the future (Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, & Dutton, 2012).
The school follows a curriculum that was developed more than fifty years ago. No meaningful adjustments have been made to the curriculum despite data from the school showing that five percent of the student population has special needs. These special needs include physically challenged and some students who have schooling problems. These students are clustered in cohorts with their colleagues based on age.
These students are exposed to similar assessments just like their colleagues and yet they need special considerations based on their needs. This confirms the industrial age assumption, “Everyone learns, or should learn, in the same way (Senge et al., 2012).” These children are frustrated because they always come last in academic assessment.
As the lead teacher in grade 7, one of my students was always last in every assessment, in social studies. However, the student was excellent in application-based subjects such as Mathematics. Further investigations into this case showed that he had a disturbed childhood and hence could not concentrate in class for a long time. This exposed the unjustifiable classification of children as “dumb”, “clever” when in deed students have unique capabilities, and the circumstances of assessment must be tailored along the unique needs and capacities of students. For this reason, the industrial age assumption “There are smart kids and dumb kids (Senge et al., 2012)” remains one of our greatest undoing in terms of embracing the knowledge age and remaining responsive to the social, health and economic needs of our students.
In a recent parent’s meeting, Physical Education lessons have also been hijacked by enthusiastic teachers who want to “help weak students” to learn and catch up with others. In complete disregard of the need for a child to learn and grow wholesomely, the school has adopted a policy that further curtails holistic growth of students through co-curricular activities.
The assumptions “Learning takes place in the head, not in the body as a whole (Senge et al., 2012)” and “Learning takes place in the classroom, not in the world (Senge et al., 2012)” seem to have inspired this moves. These assumptions are to blame for the “robots” that schools are churning out annually. In an attempt to show mastery of content, students simply cram classwork and never appreciate the role of learning and teaching in their future lives. Failure to appreciate studentship as a chance to integrate students into society and offer them holistic training has been a great disservice to the future generation (Senge et al., 2012).
PART 2: IMPLEMENTATION OF A WORKPLACE POLICY IN THE KNOWLEDGE ERA a) How Elementary School is identifying and responding to these challenges The school is committed to transforming operations and general practice in order to suit learners. For this reason, there are several internal policies. This can be summarized based on The Emergence Dynamic Model.
Figure 1.0 The Emergence Dynamic. (Adapted from Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting Leadership From the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age by (Russ, Uhl-Bien, & McKelvey, 2007, p. 309) The Emergence Dynamic Model constitutes reformulation and self-organization approaches. Reformulation consists of reorganization of preexisting elements to produce qualitatively different outcomes from the original results. My school has made such efforts.
They include: i. The school has created a network of interaction among teachers to help tackle these challenges. One of the Deputy Principals meets teachers every fortnight to seek solutions to issues facing the school. ii. Teachers share strategies with other and compare knowledge on how to improve learning and remain responsive to the challenges that students face. iii. The school policy requires that teachers in charge of different grades meet often to discuss issues that affect students and handle arising matters.
Parents are encouraged to meet teachers and discuss issues affecting their children. Every semester, there is a parents meeting. This helps minimize conflicts. iv. The School Board meets every month and makes discusses all decisions that they make with teachers and parents. v. The principal meets the School Management Team to discuss all issues that pertain to the school. This minimizes conflicts. vi.
The school has well-structured school rules, behavior goals, and classroom expectations. This enhances learner-centered and objective teaching and learning which is in line with the knowledge era. This outlines the punishment that should be mute out for anyone who contravenes the school rules. vii. The school has a professional conduct policy to enhance professionalism. viii. The internal policy within the school requires that members of staff who teach every grade must meet often. Parents are invited to meet teachers to help develop student-centered pedagogy. ix.
Professional Development Programs: In order to remain responsive to globalization and the challenges that come with the knowledge edge, all teachers are required to upgrade their professional acumen especially in the Information and Technology Sector. b) Impact on the organization and the work of practitioners in the school The changes that the school has implemented have resulted in adaptability, creativity, learning, and thus enhancing the responsiveness of the school to the social, cultural and even economic needs of the children in the elementary school.
The school enrolment has rapidly increased since most parents believe that the mode of teaching adopted by the school allows their children to be all round. The increase in the number of admissions had added pressure to the school facilities necessitating investment in new infrastructure. Students have improved in their academic performance. This is due to improved teacher-parent interactions. I have noted that students in grade 7, where I’m the leading teacher, have significantly improved in their grades and are also more responsible with the tasks that we assign them in school.
This is attributed to transparency and the learner-centered pedagogy. Most teachers have been motivated to pursue further studies and take technology courses to keep abreast with the knowledge era. All members of staff who had diplomas have now enrolled for degree courses as well as training in technology. This has enhanced human resource development in the country. However, some members of staff were unable to cope with the rapidly changing environment and demands of the knowledge era.
A significant number of staffs who were used the “machine world of teachers in control” have quit the profession. This is because the knowledge era has no room for the industrial age teachers. In conclusion, there are numerous challenges that have emerged against the backdrop of transition from an industrial age to a knowledge age. Schools must take the center stage to train and prepare future generations for this dynamic socio-economic landscape. This is only possible if schools are versatile and adaptive to student needs.
References Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. (December 2008). 1-20. Russ, M., Uhl-Bien, M., & McKelvey, B. (2007). Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting Leadership From the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age. Leadership Institute Faculty Publications, 299-321. Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., & Dutton, J. (2012). Schools That Learn (Updated and Revised): A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education. London: Crown Publishing Group. Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. (September, 2006). Essential Questions for the Future School. Future Schools , 1-30. Uhl-Bien, M., & Russ, M. (2008). Complexity Leadership. London: IAP. Whitby, B. G. (2007). Having the Courage to See Freshly. Pedagogies for the 21st Century , 1-10.