Schools that learn are everywhere, at least in people’s imaginations. The core idea that has inspired this book—both in its first edition, published in the year 2000, and now in this second edition of 2012—is simple: institutions of learning can be designed and run as learning organizations.
In other words, schools can be made sustainably vital and creative, not by fiat or command or by regulation or forced rankings, but by adopting a learning orientation. This means involving everyone in the system in expressing their aspirations, building their awareness, and developing their capabilities together.
In a school that learns, people who traditionally may have been suspicious of one another—parents and teachers, educators and local businesspeople, administrators and union members, people inside and outside the school walls, students and adults—recognize their common stake in each other’s future and the future of their community.
By now thousands of people in hundreds of schools have accumulated more than three decades’ worth of experience in the practice of schools that learn. Much of this experience has taken place under other names: “school reform,” “effective schools,” “educational renewal,” “systems thinking in the classroom,” and even in some aspects of “no child left behind.”
The experimentation continues, and the resulting understanding of the relationship among educators, schools, learners, and communities continues to deepen.