Cover image for Schools that learn : a fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education
Schools that learn : a fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education
Senge, Peter M.
First Currency paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2000.
Physical Description:
ix, 592 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
"A Currency book"--T.p. verso.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LB2822.82 .S38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
LB2822.82 .S38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Created by bestselling author and MIT senior lecturer Peter Senge and a team of educators and organizational change leaders, this new addition to the Fifth Discipline Resource Book series offers practical advice for educators, administrators, and parents on how to strengthen and rebuild our schools.

Few would argue that schools today are in trouble. The problems are sparking a national debate as educators, school boards, administrators, and parents search for ways to strengthen our school system at all levels, more effectively respond to the rapidly changing world around us, and better educate our children.

Bestselling author Peter Senge and his Fifth Discipline team have written Schools That Learn because educators--who have made up a sizable percentage of the audience for the popular Fifth Discipline books--have asked for a book that focuses specifically on schools and education, to help reclaim schools even in economically depressed or turbulent districts. One of the great strengths of Schools That Learn is its description of practices that are meeting success across the country and around the world, as schools attempt to learn, grow, and reinvent themselves using the principles of organizational learning. Featuring articles, case studies, and anecdotes from prominent educators such as Howard Gardner, Jay Forrester, and 1999 U.S. Superintendent of the Year Gerry House, as well as from impassioned teachers, administrators, parents, and students, the book offers a wealth of practical tools, anecdotes, and advice that people can use to help schools (and the classrooms in them and communities around them) learn to learn.

You'll read about schools, for instance, where principals introduce themselves to parents new to the school as "entering a nine-year conversation" about their children's education; where teachers use computer modeling to galvanize student insight into everything from Romeo and Juliet to the extinction of the mammoths; and where teachers' training is not just bureaucratic ritual but an opportunity to recharge and rethink the classroom.

In a fast-changing world where school violence is a growing concern, where standardized tests are applied as simplistic "quick fixes," where rapid advances in science and technology threaten to outpace schools' effectiveness, where the average tenure of a school district superintendent is less than three years, and where students, parents, and teachers feel weighed down by increasing pressures, Schools That Learn offers much-needed material for the dialogue about the educating of children in the twenty-first century.

Author Notes

Peter Senge is the author of The Fifth Discipline , "one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years" Harvard Business Review . Together with Arthur D. Little executive Bryan Smith and editorial director Art Kleiner, he is coauthor of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook and The Dance of Change .

Nelda Cambron-McCabe, professor at the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University (Ohio), is a nationally known expert on school reform and leadership; Timothy Lucas, a public school superintendent in New Jersey, is a recognized innovator of systems-thinking approaches for schools; and Janis Dutton is an education writer, consultant, and community activist.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thankfully, organizational management theory guru Senge doesn't make the kind of simplistic prescriptions for improving schools that often come from the business community. At the heart of his handbook for educational change are the ideas Senge first articulated in The Fifth Discipline and subsequent books on building organizations where learning can thrive. His five key themes highlight the importance of developing realistic personal goals, establishing a shared vision, cultivating awareness of attitudes and perceptions, practicing positive group interaction and understanding interdependency and change, feedback and complexity. Although there aren't any genuine breakthroughs or original ideas here, the book succeeds in offering a compendium of useful concepts and innovative practices that may be of use to educators struggling to redefine themselves and their work during a time of rapid global and technological change. The book's broad sweep is both a strength and weakness. Some readers may be frustrated by the lack of depth and focus, though the book's helpful resource lists will steer them to other valuable sources. By popularizing ideas about learning theory, leadership, group dynamics and school/ community partnerships that are already accepted in much of the educational community, this handy volume may help parents better understand the struggles of educators to create dynamic and effective learning environments. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Following the theory he began in The Fifth Discipline, Senge turns his attention this time from the business world to education in this fourth addition to his "Fifth Discipline Resource" series, so named because it focuses on a set of disciplines the author believes are key to organizational learning (personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, team learning, and systems thinking). But there is a special challenge when applying the five disciplines to our educational system. America has moved out of the Industrial Age, and so has the business world. Our educational system, however, has not. Senge argues persuasively that we must abandon Industrial Age assumptions about schools. This requires centering learning around the student instead of the teacher, discouraging "homogeneity," and getting away from rote memorization. In short, it means treating schools like living systems instead of machines. Senge suggests that the readers browse as needed, following the cross references scattered throughout the book, rather than reading it from cover to cover. While primarily of use to those within the educational system, this book will also be of interest to parents. Change in education is hard, but students would benefit from the suggestions here. Give Senge credit for trying! Recommended for most public libraries.DTerry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
I. Orientation
1 The Remembered Momentp. 3
2 The Idea of a School That Learnsp. 5
3 Core Concepts About Learning in Organizationsp. 19
4 How to Read This Bookp. 23
5 The Industrial Age System of Educationp. 27
II. A Primer to the Five Disciplines
1 Personal Masteryp. 59
2 Mental Modelsp. 66
3 Shared Visionp. 71
4 Team Learningp. 73
5 Systems Thinkingp. 77
6 Wheels of Learningp. 93
III. Opening the Classroom Door
1 Creating Classrooms That Learnp. 101
2 Designing a Learning Classroomp. 105
3 "Legal, safe, and something you want to learn"p. 110
IV. Seeing the Learner
1 The Dignity of the Childp. 118
2 Demystifying the Childp. 124
3 There is No Such Thing as a Regular Childp. 130
4 Overcoming Absurdityp. 135
5 Sending Signalsp. 143
6 Honoring the Kissp. 147
V. Practices
1 A Five Disciplines Developmental Journeyp. 153
2 Teaching Structural Tensionp. 167
3 A Shared Vision Process for the Classroomp. 175
4 The Accidental Visionp. 176
5 Homework: The Beastp. 181
6 Assessment as Learningp. 186
7 Intellectual Behaviorsp. 196
8 A Pedagogy for the Five Disciplinesp. 205
VI. Productive Conversation
1 Check-inp. 215
2 Opening Dayp. 216
3 Balancing Advocacy and Inquiryp. 219
4 Reframing the Parent-Teacher Conferencep. 223
5 "Don't eat the pizza..."p. 227
VII. Systems Thinking
1 Systems Study for the Long Termp. 232
2 Systems Thinking in the Classroomp. 238
3 Mapping Mental Modeslp. 254
4 Tools for Asking "How does this work?"p. 258
5 Pitfalls and Skillsp. 262
6 Systems Stories for Childrenp. 265
VIII. Entering School
1 Creating Classrooms That Learnp. 271
2 Schooling as an Ethical Endeavorp. 276
IX. School Vision
1 A Shared Vision for Schoolsp. 289
2 Educating all the City's Childrenp. 303
3 What is Our Core Purpose?p. 312
4 Making a Dangerous Subject Safep. 321
X. Current Reality
1 Triangle of Design, Circle of Culturep. 325
2 Predetermined Uncertaintyp. 341
3 The $19,000 Questionp. 350
4 Success to the Successfulp. 355
5 Shifting the Burdenp. 359
6 A System Diagnoses Itselfp. 364
7 The Great Game of High Schoolp. 370
XI. Development
1 "Read two chapters and call me in the morning"p. 381
2 No More "Drive-by Staff Development"p. 385
3 The Cognitive Studies Groupp. 395
4 "Choose Your Own Adventure"p. 398
5 Learning to Teachp. 406
XII. Leadership
1 Leadership Without Controlp. 411
2 Peer Partnersp. 418
3 The Superintendent's Progressp. 425
4 A School Board That Learnsp. 432
5 Feet to the Firep. 438
6 Learning as Governing and Governing as Learningp. 446
7 "You can't do that!"p. 453
XIII. Moving into Community
1 Fostering Communities that Learnp. 459
XIV. Identity
1 Taking Stock of Community Connectionsp. 467
2 "Expression is the first step out of oppression"p. 471
3 "As the community goes, so goes the school"p. 477
4 Sharing a Vision, Nationwidep. 483
XV. Connections
1 Parent to Parentp. 489
2 Reperceiving Classroom Boundariesp. 495
3 The "Systems Basketball Coach"p. 502
4 Tragedy of the Commonsp. 507
5 "The future of the company"p. 510
6 Sesame Bridgep. 519
XVI. Sustainability
1 The Rainmakersp. 529
2 Vision Escalation, Position De-escalationp. 539
3 Resources for Early Childhood Education and Carep. 541
4 Children as Leadersp. 545
5 How Do You Know Your Organization is Learning?p. 552
XVII. End Notes
1 The Context of Reframing Learningp. 555
2 Acknowledgmentsp. 566
3 About the Authorsp. 569
4 How to Get in Touch with the Creators of This Bookp. 572
Indexp. 575
Owner Registration Formp. 593