Forging links with a world beyond school;Books

11th June 1999 at 01:00
WHAT'S WORTH FIGHTING FOR IN EDUCATION?. By Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan. Open University Press pound;10.99

Already the first two books in the What's worth fighting for? series are required reading for the National Professional Qualification for headship. This one may well be added to the list.

It is a short, readable paperback in the same vein as the other two. It is a manifesto for practitioners, but especially heads and deputies, in both primary and secondary schools. Many of the ideas in the previous volumes are used to underpin the arguments here.

The book is about the world beyond school and the communities that schools should be linking with. These links are vital if we are to continue to improve teaching and learning in our schools. There is advice for teachers, heads, governors and parents.

The authors see it as vital that we move schools from being the unwelcoming recipients of external prescription to becoming hopeful planners for the future. There are many telling criticisms of the predominant model of teaching and learning, which the authors believe to be based on an out-moded factory model of industrial processing. They also have little time for the insularity and defensiveness that characterises aspects of our education system.

They consider the antidote to be to mesh teachers and schools firmly into a world of communities, alliances and networks. They focus on five of the most significant external forces: parents and communities, governments, technology, businesses and the changing teaching profession.

Throughout the book, the authors return to examine the values that they hope drive teachers in the quest for links beyond school. Agendas for action are underpinned by pleas for the rediscovery of passion and moral purpose in our work. Managing hopefully, as well as rationally, is a significant conclusion.

This book will challenge and provoke. But then, if it is really worth fighting for, it is worth thinking about and being passionate about. If this book creates practical agendas for action and makes those who work both in and with schools more hopeful about the future of education, it will have succeeded.

Andy Schofield The writer is deputy headteacher at Varndean School, Brighton

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