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Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents and Everyone Who Cares About Education 1st Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0385493239
ISBN-10: 0385493231
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (September 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385493231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385493239
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By The Least of These on September 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether we experienced our student life as "sweat hogs" or not, each of us have tales to tell of being forced to learn in spite of the schools we attended instead of because of them. If we counted how many "good" schools or teachers we experienced over our lifetimes, we could probably count them on one hand (or finger!). For an institution that plays such a significant part in our development, this is a terrible performance record.
With SCHOOLS THAT LEARN, Peter Senge (et al) legitimize the fieldbook format as an extremely effective teaching tool. Chocked full of examples, tools, theory, tips and traps to avoid, SCHOOLS THAT LEARN outlines an effective strategy for creating a powerful alliance between learners, schools, and communities. His is a call to action that must be heeded.
Readers will be informed, challenged to get involved, inspired, troubled, and made to see how important an issue lifelong learning is. Rather than seeking to place blame, SCHOOLS THAT LEARN simply acknowledge the "opportunities" that are before each of us. Senge then uses this "gap" between the desired state of learning and the current state to motivate readers to take action.
This is a book that should be on desk of every school administrator, teacher, parent and corporate training staff. The dialogue it will initiate has the potential to create, sustain and improve learning throughout all areas of our lives.
Get it, read it, act on it, and SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an essential book for anyone interested in education. Its comprehensive coverage gives much background, even at the risk of being distracting when you want to follow-up on the leads to so many interesting source-books and links. Though you are told to dip in anywhere, you must read the first section, esp. "The Industrial Age System of Education" by Senge and "A Primer to the Five Disciplines" (Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, Team Learning and Systems Thinking) (pp. 27-93).

The authors consider this book a "prequel" to their other books about learning organizations (p.7). That's true. Though this is the most recent book, you can start with this one and go on to the others for further depth. Some repetitions may only serve well for mastery.

The whole book is very readable and informative. Concepts are clearly explained. It follows the same excellent editing format as The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook and The Dance of Change.

When you get too enthused by so many ideas and success stories of innovations, heed the advice for "The Strategy of Organizational Change". "Focus on one or two new priorities for change, not twelve. Most school systems are already overwhelmed with change. They don't need a new initiative; they need an approach that consolidates existing initiatives, eliminates "turf battles," and makes it easier for people to work together toward common ends." (p.25)

There are just too many passages that you wish to quote. The book is a treasure mine. However, for those (esp. busy administrators) who find the volume too daunting or verbose (592 pages!) and still want to get a handle on launching into transforming their schools into learning organisations, I would recommend, "Ten Steps to a Learning Organization" and start with the simple questionnaire given there.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Phelps on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
SCHOOLS THAT LEARN is both a visionary and practical guide for how schools must evolve to meet the needs of students in the next 20 years. The use of multiple authors and perspectives mirrors some of the changes our schools must make to meet the needs of a new age. As Professional Development Director at a diverse Jesuit high school in San Francisco, I recommend this book to any educator, K-college. Senge's work will help prepare students for an era requiring a strong traditional academic foundation coupled with the need for creativity, and the social, emotional, and intellectual skills to work in high performing teams needed to rebuild our world.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David H. Wilkinson on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
SCHOOLS THAT LEARN shows that challenges facing businesses, organizations and schools may be different, but strategies and methods to understand and address the challenges are indeed similar.
This book does a great job of translating the theory of learning organizations and the five disciplines into terms that relate to the life of schools and the people who work and learn there. The many stories presented demonstrate the wide variety of ways to address organizational learning.
The perspectives of various authors highlight the complexity of school development and offer ways to better understand systems. The mere clarity from increased understanding of the current reality offers great opportunity for growth and improvement.
A great read and reference for school leaders and those interested in helping students learn and succeed.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By The Least of These on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The fourth book in the Fifth Discipline series, SCHOOLS THAT LEARN, legitimizes Senge's fieldbook format as an extremely effective means of teaching. It leads the reader into the exciting adventure of creating, sustaining, improving, and helping classrooms, schools, and communities. It outlines a way to achieve our common birthright as humans, "life as eager and natural learners." This will be an important work, a source of dialogue for years to come, and - hopefully - inspiration for meaningful action in fostering the best method yet discovered to creating a positive globalizing force...LEARNING!
With the release of each Fifth Discipline resource, the concepts, the thought, the ideas, best practices, examples, and usefulness to readers have become sharper, more focused, and infused with an ever increasing sense of urgency. Personal mastery, systems thinking, shared vision, team learning, and mental models wait ready to serve today's learners. And, SCHOOLS THAT LEARN show how to put them into service in one of the most - if not THE most - fundamental areas of our lives...LEARNING!
When teaching schools, school systems, parents and community leaders begin to read, to discuss, to reflect on, advocate and actually take action to use the principles and practices described in SCHOOLS THAT LEARN, the promise of lifelong learning and the power of learners freed to learn will be realized.
SCHOOLS THAT LEARN challenges, it inspires, it educates, and it forces you to engage with its content. Readers beware. You cannot enter this "stream" and emerge unchanged.
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