The purpose of this paper is to respond to a recent article published in this journal by Stoll and Kools (2017) on the “School as a Learning Organisation” (SLO). It critiques Stoll and Kools’ integrated model of a SLO by investigating whether the model can be applied to a specific socio-cultural schooling context using the example of mainland China.
This paper reviews the extant published works on SLO with a focus on Stoll and Kools’ integrated model of a SLO. The paper also reviews the existing literature on schooling practices in China.
It is argued that the application of Stoll and Kools’ integrated model of a SLO in China needs to take into consideration and incorporate the prevailing centralised, hierarchical and collective characteristics in the country.
The paper questions the universal application of the seven action-oriented dimensions of the SLO for all schools regardless of socio-cultural contexts. It highlights the mediating and moderating effects of local histories, conditions and developments when promoting SLO in a specific learning site.
Policymakers, researchers and educators need to contextualise the ideal of the SLO by interpreting and appropriating it in ways that are compatible with the dominant socio-cultural norms and practices in a particular locality.
This paper fills a current gap by relating the notion of SLO model to the schooling settings in China. It offers a collective slant to SLO that is tailored for the educational realities and experiences in China.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Department of Educational Studies of Macquarie University in June 2019. The author is grateful to Dr Laurie Field, Associate Professor Michael Cavanagh, Professor Manjula Waniganayake and all the participants for their helpful comments.
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