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October 1, 1992
Vol. 50
No. 2


The New Meaning of Educational Change

The New Meaning of Educational Change by Michael Fullan New York: Teachers College Press, 1991.
Having written a classic on the phenomenon of educational change, Michael Fullan expands his original work (1982) to give us an even more useful book. The New Meaning of Educational Change is unrivaled as a manual of what the process of change really entails.
Drawn from extensive research, Fullan's analysis clearly distills what we have learned in the last 30 years about change and reform. Emphasizing that successful examples of innovation are based upon “organized common sense,” Fullan makes a convincing case for the practical application of change theory.
The text is divided into three parts: Understanding Change, Change at the Local Level, and Change at the Regional and National Level. A theme that Fullan revisits again and again, the “neglect of the phenomenology of change—that is, how people actually experience change as distinct from how it might have been intended—is at the heart of the spectacular lack of success of most social reforms.”
Particularly noteworthy, in an area all too frequently characterized by prescriptive recipes, are Fullan's insights into the often poorly defined relationship between the intellectual and humanistic aspects of the change process. Referring to three decades of research, Fullan points to the importance of advocacy, values, and meaning as essentials for planned intervention. Instead of providing single answers, Fullan directs our thinking to appropriate questions. While helping us to recognize that facing the complexity of creating meaningful change is problematic, he also charts a practical course for sustaining realistic school improvement projects.
Fullan's ideas on building learning communities, or what he calls learning enriched schools, are simple and elegant. His insistence that systemic change means changing the cultures of schools clearly expands the agenda for future reform initiatives because it involves changing ourselves as well as learning about our craft.
Available from Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, for $25.95.
—Reviewed by Bernice McCarthy, EXCEL, Inc., Barrington, Ill.

Implementing Cognitive Strategy Training Across the School

Implementing Cognitive Strategy Training Across the School: The Benchmark Manual for Teachers by Irene Gaskins and Thorne Elliot Cambridge, Mass.: Brookline Books, 1991.
Students who attend Benchmark School, a private school in Pennsylvania, are taught to process content from all curricular areas so that it is meaningful and can be remembered and integrated into their previous knowledge. This book describes the research upon which the Benchmark program is based and the content and process of the curriculum.
Using excerpts from transcripts in several teachers' classrooms, chapters detail instructional practices. The history of Benchmark School is chronicled and the theoretical basis for the school's instructional practices is discussed. The authors also share insights about how Benchmark School dealt with the process of change.
It might be best to begin reading the book where classroom implementation is described (Chapter 6), saving the early theoretical chapters for later. The manual contains an annotated list of strategies and an extensive bibliography, which could be useful in developing a program.
Available from Brookline Books, P.O. Box 1046, Cambridge, MA 02238, for $24.95.
—Reviewed by Janet Bergman, Potomac, Md.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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