The Learning Record


Hargreaves on Educational Policy

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Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing

"Our long-term goal is to create a complex network of teachers who engage in dialogue around the principles of language learning, the sharing of good practices, exhibitions of classroom work, and inquiry into case-study portrayals of language learning. We are endeavoring to create a policy process that is not a line or cycle, but a postmodern "moving mosaic" of teacher discussion and development groups, shifting and overlapping, moving people, issues, ideas, and activities vigorously around the system.

"Our reasons for moving toward this reconceptualization of policy development are that it makes more sense for as many policy decisions as possible to be determined at the immediate level, where people will have to realize them (Corson, 1990). In a complex, uncertain, and highly variable world, planned change that follows systematic cycles of development, implementation, and review is too inflexible and bureaucratic to respond to local perceptions, needs, and circumstances (Louis, 1994). Moreover, detailed documents that freeze policies in text become outdated and overtaken even as they are being written by changing communities, new technologies, fresh legislation, research insights, and unanticipated problems (Darling-Hammond, 1995). Written policies are also problematic in that, like all written texts, they are interpreted differently by those who read them. Passed through the prisms of teachers' purposes and perceptions, the black and white texts of educational policy become scattered into an infinite array of colors and shades of interpretation. No written policy can be clear or literal enough to secure real consensus. Policy is therefore best secured not through the sole medium of written administrative texts, but through communities of people within and across schools who create policies, talk about them, process them, inquire into them, and reformulate them, bearing in mind the circumstances and the children they know best."

(A. Hargreaves)

The Learning Record | © 1995-2014 M. A. Syverson

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