Transforming Visions: Managing Values in School, a Case Study

Anthony Normore (Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Normore, A. (2004), "Transforming Visions: Managing Values in School, a Case Study", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 508-511.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In her book, Transforming Visions: Managing Values in School, a Case Study, Crick provides an in‐depth study of a subject relevant to all schools on both a national and international level. It deals with values and citizenship education in the UK, making the book very timely considering that citizenship education has recently become a government priority and an integral part of the National Curriculum. The case study takes the reader on a journey with one school that is attempting to bring concepts such as values, vision, and ethos into the foreground of school development planning. Crick offers an explanatory theory about the relationship between a learning community's vision and values and the central task of learning, growth and human development. The study moves between theory and practice. Beginning with a community‐wide consultation on vision and values, the action research of this case study utilizes a set of agreed core values to function as vehicles for spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of students across the curriculum. Additionally, the research, on which the book is based, offers a particular perspective on the development of learner‐centered education, suggesting that an effective citizen is also a lifelong learner.

The book contains ten chapters that are brilliantly interwoven into the fabric of what it means to promote values and worldviews through the whole experience of schooling. Each chapter deals with a particular concept relating to the “softer” side of schools such as quality of relationships or spiritual and moral development. The book begins with a brief introduction that describes the background of the case study including how it was conducted, the school that was used in the study, the timeframe, and participants. Chapter one focuses on exploring the concept of vision and values. Crick centers her approach on the purpose or reason for life and education and connects it to individuals and communities who need hope and a plan for the future. The intent of this chapter is to emphasize that a school without a purpose or a vision lacks direction and focus. The author expounds on how the development of a vision and mission of a school embeds core values and principles which provide a guiding framework for its actual implementation. Consequently, the concept of a “value‐free” school or community is not a tenable notion. As Crick emphasizes being explicit is important for “if a school is not explicit about its vision and its core values it will surely be promoting beliefs and core values of some kind … these may be ones which the school is deeply critical and which may run counter to its stated claims” (p. 13). Chapter two explains the consultation phase of the research and investigates the “lived” values and attitudes of a sample of students and staff in the selected school. The research team initiated consultation with a significant majority of members of the school community including students, parents, governors and teachers in attempts to identify a set of core values which the school community agreed upon as being important enough to guide and direct the school. There are several clearly developed tables provided in this chapter that illustrate the findings of the research team. While the stakeholders held similar and contrasting values for the school in question it becomes apparent that core values need to be defined. The author does this effectively.

Chapter three focuses on the current practice in the school. Kelly's 1955 research instrument known as “repertory grid technique” was used within the framework of personal construct theory. This instrument was used to structure interviews that give some indication as to the subject's core constructs in relation to school. The findings revealed much of interest and significance between teachers and students (e.g. valuing relationships, the self, learning and growth, the Christian tradition, moral development, environment and the curriculum), as well as teachers and staff (e.g. valuing excellence, the whole child, interpersonal relationships and teamwork, equality and environment, the Christian foundation of the school, and the curriculum).

Chapter four focuses on what Crick considers “one of the most vague and ill‐defined words in use in education‐school ethos” (p. 41). She offers her perspective by emphasizing how people feel and think about the climate in which they learn and teach makes a difference in how they do their job. Throughout this chapter, Crick capitalizes on “lived values” and questions “whose spirituality, whose values, whose narratives?” are being indoctrinated in schools. One particular finding that will be of particular interest to curriculum developers is what Crick refers to as “the silence of the curriculum” (p. 48). While values were understood to be present in the school culture, its organizational practices, and in the quality of relationship, there was silence as far as the curriculum was concerned. Crick offers two explanations for this, both which are considered untenable in the research world and to which she agrees. First, that the curriculum is seen increasingly “as a ‘given’…imposed by government through the National Curriculum…very little room for teacher discretion…change or adaptation” (p. 48). Second, “the neutrality of the curriculum has a powerful pedigree in custom and practice…values, beliefs, and spiritual and moral development…conveniently relegated to the private and personal” (p. 49).

Given the silence of the curriculum from teachers in relation to values and the curriculum in the case study school, Crick devotes chapter five to this issue by focusing on the question of “whose values” can be legitimately nurtured in this school. The scope of values across the curriculum is summarized by the use of emerging themes and clearly displayed in a table for a more concise and clear understanding of how certain values appear more readily with certain subjects of the curriculum.

Chapter six provides a more comprehensive analysis at the teaching and learning implications of values education across the curriculum. The purpose of this piece of the research was “to find out whether teaching values in a planned and integrated way across a range of subjects would encourage an understanding, appreciation and personal interpretation of those values” (p. 64). Through the use of a diagram the reader is made aware of how the research team understood values to be present in the curriculum. Through the use of the repertory grid technique and some statistical tests done with the help of a software program, examples in the first year of teaching and learning interventions in various subject areas (i.e. Science, French, Religious Education, Geography, and Music) are provided throughout this chapter. In the second academic year time was spent on intervention processes in areas of math, history, and design technology. While the reader may question the type of computer software used in the statistical analysis of the data in this chapter, it is well‐described in chapter seven. The outcomes of both years' work are dedicated to chapter seven. Throughout, Crick explains the data analysis procedures in detail and uses several tables to display the quantitative data. At the end of chapter seven there is a section devoted strictly to examples of student work. Crick uses these examples as a means to illustrate how these pieces of work are values‐oriented. In chapter eight, Crick discusses the findings of the three‐year case study by highlighting the common themes that emerged from the research. These themes include: the value of dialogue and discussion; learners as organized totalities; outcomes; student development; making connections; learning strategies, dispositions and qualities in values interventions; and the ecology of spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development.

Chapter nine focuses on the UK national policy context. Crick provides a brief, yet significant synopsis of: the 1944 and 1988 Education Reform Act; the Northbourne amendments that challenged the spiritual and moral neutrality of the whole of the curriculum of schools; and the amendment to the framework of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) in 1993 to combine all four areas of personal development‐spiritual, moral, social and cultural. Crick also highlights the formation of the National Forum for Values in Education and the Community, and the role of Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) in Curriculum 2000. Crick concludes with chapter ten by identifying the critical issues that are central to the concerns of the book. Three overarching themes are addressed: whose vision and values; spirituality and its relationship to citizenship and to religion; and the role of emotion, worldviews, spiritual and moral development in the learning process in the twenty‐first century.

Although the book is based on case study research in the UK, it is imperative for the reader to bear in mind how character education and citizenship education are on the reform agendas internationally. The Government stresses the importance of citizenship in the UK while character education is stressed in the USA. This book provides a comprehensive picture of lessons learned and offers insight to school leaders at all levels who are grappling with the requirements of citizenship education and the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students in schools. It is very timely and well‐written for particular audiences. The book is a highly valuable, insightful and recommended case study volume, presented with great rigor and thought. It is especially recommended by the author of the article for school leaders, teachers, leadership and teacher training institutions, researchers and policy makers worldwide who are involved in curriculum development. Finally, this book can be an invaluable resource for graduate students and professors of education who tackle with methodology and case study research.

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