ERIC Number: ED413630
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Sep
Chaos Theory as a Lens for Advancing Quality Schooling.
Snyder, Karolyn J.; Acker-Hocevar, Michele; Wolf, Kristen M.
Chaos theory provides a useful mental model for guiding change as leaders garner the energy from unpredictable events for realizing transformation goals. The paper considers chaos theory as a framework for managing school change toward Total Quality Management work cultures. Change is possible to manage when plans are made and then followed by a careful and continuous reading of the chaotic landscape of the school workplace, using the unexpected patterns that surface as energy for change. The paper discusses issues that school leaders now face in managing change, presents a few of the basic concepts found in the yet scant literature of chaos theory, and reports what teachers and principals in 28 schools had to say about change. The study examined the change process in 28 schools in Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Virginia. Data were gathered through interviews with the 28 principals and through questionnaires administered to 1,235 teachers. Findings indicate that change is more likely to be successful if an array of collaborative structures and systems are created to foster continuous dialogue, exchange, and problem solving among work groups. The principals reported that it is possible to engineer the end of unresponsive structures, systems, and programs. The patterns that emerged from the interviews reinforce the utility of Quality as a mental model for guiding change, and chaos theory as a way to ground educators' efforts. (Contains 33 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the British Educational Management and Administration Society (Oxford, England, United Kingdom, September 22-24, 1995).