This is an excerpt from my latest Australian Teacher Magazine column.
In schools it is not uncommon for outside agencies to be brought in to consult on initiatives, but should the consultant lack a background in education they can be quickly dismissed by a less than enthusiastic staffroom. After all, what would they know?
Yet in other sectors and industries it is often seen as advantageous to bring people in from other domains as they are free of the common assumptions that sometimes hold innovation back.
‘Outsiders’ can see a universally accepted practice that would usually go unchallenged and ask, ‘Why do you do that?’ and in doing so can spark a conversation that otherwise would not have taken place.
You can read the full article here.
I think Schools also have to be aware of a related issue to the use of external people, in what Professor John O’Neill calls The Rise of the Policy Entrepreneur.
Professor O’Neill in analysing Hattie’s influence on New Zealand Education Policy describes the process well:
“public policy discourse becomes problematic when the terms used are ambiguous, unclear or vague” (p1). The “discourse seeks to portray the public sector as ‘ineffective, unresponsive, sloppy, risk-averse and innovation-resistant’ yet at the same time it promotes celebration of public sector ‘heroes’ of reform and new kinds of public sector ‘excellence’. Relatedly, Mintrom (2000) has written persuasively in the American context, of the way in which ‘policy entrepreneurs’ position themselves politically to champion, shape and benefit from school reform discourses” (p2).
Professor O’Neill’s analysis can be found here or i can provide interested people with a copy-