Module 2 Organisational theories
It has been so interesting reading about organizational theory and the management of schools. As I read through all of the different types of leadership theory, I recognized traits that my Principal possesses, my Heads of Faculty and even myself in my current role.
Each leadership theory promotes its own style and how it benefits the leaders and ‘followers’ of organisations. When we think of schools, particularly in the last decade or so, there has been a need for great flexibility in how schools are run. Whilst there is no one single theory that benefits a school, I think common practice is to see schools operate under a blend of leadership styles.
If early theorists maintain that organisations are ‘machines’, in that its operation is dependent on routine, reliability and fixability; and these organisational structures are formalised and governed by a central authority, dependent on the standardisation of work processes, then historically, schools fit under this definition. Schools are governed by policy and procedure, detailed in National Curriculum documents and relevant syllabi. Standardised testing is present across year levels, and there is an element of routine and reliability to schooling and its structures. Routines are dictated by bells, subjects, age groups and the standardisation of testing. But this model of education is modelled on the interests of industrialism.
Whilst we can neatly assign schools to this ‘machine’ label, what we are forgetting is that schools are about teaching and learning; they are fundamentally about people. Schools are central to learning and thus, their focus should be on optimal pedagogical practices that place students and learning at the fore. Schools that have a strong and deep culture of teaching and learning, see an increase in academic engagement and outcomes. Schools promote and embrace learning and need to consider the needs of the learning community. At a time where school aged children are living in the one of the most stimulating periods of history, we too need to reconsider this ‘machine’ and how its run. Whilst schools may be governed by external influences, we must not forget, that unlike machines, schools are about the people and community who reside within them.