Implications for education
In New Zealand we can see this trend emerging through the Investing in Educational Success Policy which includes support from the government for Communities of Learners. As more and more schools and services become part of Communities of Learners, we need to consider a shift beyond the sharing level and into true collaboration where we consider the challenges that we need to solve together and create deep-rooted, community-based visions to be achieved over time.
In past collaboration efforts in Aotearoa there are examples of effective practice that include schools and services working together to build a strong vision that is relevant to all involved. These groups have also used other effective approaches such as building a deep understanding and use of everyone’s needs and strengths using some kind of self-review like Teaching as Inquiry. They have developed effective relationships with each other at all levels from leadership to learner and each community member knows their role in achieving the vision. This allows them to challenge and critique each other in ways that ensure that the community grows its capacity.
The challenges in developing such a strong, collaborative, vision-based community is that people tend to build walls around the community that are not permeable. When people find something worthwhile and important that they can relate to and find inspiration in, the temptation is to protect the community from “outsiders”.
Questions to consider
As we begin to think more and more about Networked Communities, and the need to solve complex problems, we will start to think more about how we contribute to the social capital of the communities around us and we will start to consider the following questions:
- How permeable are the boundaries around our communities? Should we have boundaries at all if we want to encourage engagement with multiple perspectives to solve our complex problems?
- How can communities put learners in the driving seat, giving them the chance to socially construct knowledge with each other and adults, and encouraging them to contest existing knowledge?
- Is the fact that many humans were forced into factory model educations for the industrial age impacting on the way we develop our collaborative communities? What assembly line practices can we get rid of to make room for new and innovative solutions?
- What can we learn from the many indigenous cultures who continued to thrive in intergenerational, whānau-based, holistic learning that would prepare them for a future that valued people over industry? - something that we need now more than ever. How do our collaborative communities invite and approach local iwi to be part of vision development and achievement? How might we show interest in and support iwi initiatives?
- How can we move from being collaborative communities to networked communities? How will we know when we have succeeded in this?
- To be a networked community do we first need to be networked organisations? (Core Education website)
On the Edge: Shifting Teachers’ Paradigms for the Future (PDF, 274 KB)
MOE Guides for IES Communities of Schools (PDF, 287 KB)