From print to practice: Community as a metaphor for school reform

Deidre Renee Farmbry, University of Pennsylvania


This study highlights the dichotomy between telling and doing in the context of educational reform. Case studies expose the dilemmas of practitioners attempting to make a leader's vision operational. By focusing on the establishment of sub-organizational units known as small learning communities inside of public schools in one urban area, this study exposes issues related to organizational change and human will. The word "community" is the subject of this study. Although community is traditionally associated with the fields of sociology and anthropology, the term was used frequently in the 1980's and 1990's in literature regarding the improvement of schools. This dissertation explores the human, emotional side of bonding, analyzing issues which contribute to and detract from an esprit de corps known as community, to serve as the anchor for school change. This study concludes that the personal and professional biographies of school personnel and the ecological nesting of a school and its surrounding environment result in issues which have an impact on the likelihood of community being a valid metaphor for the changes sought in school organization. Until time is allocated for the human and emotional issues of bonding to be addressed through guided and purposeful conversation, it is unlikely that meaningful community will be established on a wide scale basis to help reform education.

Subject Area

School administration|Educational theory

Recommended Citation

Farmbry, Deidre Renee, "From print to practice: Community as a metaphor for school reform" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9819813.