Re: learning organisations and schools LO5

Robert Levi (
Fri, 3 Feb 95 16:59:54 MST

Tobin wrote:
>In response to your query about schools being "learning organizations", I
>would certainly hope that such an innovation is possible. Here at Austin
>Community College in Texas, we are beginning the culture change to such a
>model. I would be very interested myself in exploring how this can happen
>at post-secondary levels, but my sense is that if we can get it started
>at earlier levels, all of us will benefit.

I work at a private school near Boulder, CO (grades 6-12) and I'm
definitely trying to bring L.O. ideas into our school. In fact, my
headmaster is at this moment at Columbia U. studying just this same topic
(I think). It'll be interesting to see what happens when he returns. I
also recommend Mandinach and Cline's book on how they brought systems
thinking into schools--the successes and failures. It's a very good book
of case studies.

One area I'm finding particularly painful is finding (creating) the time
in the staff and faculty's very full schedules (most faculty work 50-60
hrs./wk) to learn (individually and together). I spent some time at High
Performance Systems this summer and actually developed a model for
implementing new technology (whether it be better computer skills or
systems thinking). Obviously the model was very simple, and focused on
improvement in tasks/day kind of thing, but the most interesting piece was
the delay between implementation and actually seeing results. Even in our
simple model, it was around 6-9 months! During Peter Senge's recent
teleconference where he talked with orgs. from ed., industry,
communications,etc. what was most interesting to me was that ALL of them
said that they'd been at this process for at least 3-4 YRS., and that they
were JUST starting to see results.

One story Peter told awhile back at a talk I attended had to do with a
woman who taught college-level math and said how hard it was when she was
first trying to learn calculus...that it took a couple years to really get
to know it well. Her comment was that lots of orgs. think they can learn a
whole new way of doing business by sending a couple of folks to a
three-day conference, then upon returning be given a mandate that they had
3 months to implement the changes and get results. After the 3-month
evaluation, if there weren't positive results, then the new way would be
scrapped for the old way. The teacher's comment was that if they had
taught calculus that way, our society would be a very different one than
it is now.

Robert Levi | 4801 N. 107th St. | voice: 303/665-6679,x361
Director of Computing | Lafayette, CO 80026 | fax: 303/665-0757
Alexander Dawson School | email: | Systems Thinking Junkie