Partnership for Whole School Change


The Institutional Complexity of Schools 

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The general public does not appreciate the huge number of complex emotional and cognitive transactions our K-12 schools mediate and teachWe educators have to speak up and communicate what we are dealing with, and why we need to get it right. And, we ought to appeal for help, because we cannot do this work alone. 

First and foremost, our schools have to reflect the complexity of those we serve — our children who are arguably the most complex entities in the universe. Such profound complexity requires our schools to exhibit profound compassion, planning, thinking, attention, and resources if our children are to humanely succeed in the global market world they live in

Second, our K-12 schools must have an effective educational response to globalization that gives our children a sound, science-based understanding of it. The response needs to prepare our citizens to humanely succeed in this global marketplace.  

Third, K-12 schools need to be seen by their members and those who support them as being one of the most important and complex institutions on earth and treated as such.

Our society gives K-12 schools 13 intimate years with virtually every child. Except for the family, our society gives no other institution that much time to socialize our children. Also, no other institution is charged with addressing the following wide spectrum of complex attributes that make our children who they are: 

  • genetic traits;
  • capacity to function with the same and different age groupings;
  • behaviors, thoughts and feelings that emanate from each child's culture; 
  • ideological traits; 
  • physical, psychological, and intellectual abilities and disabilities; and
  • socialization received from living in different geographic locals, economic and social classes, and in resource rich and resource poor environments.

These complex attributes also pertain to the adults who work inside and outside each K-12 school.

Our schools have to give knowledge and meaning to a vast array of complex abstract symbols that our citizens must master to competently communicate, calculate, administrate, evaluate, design, engineer, and construct. Our schools have to teach a vast array of social/emotional skills our citizens need to govern themselves, care for others, and participate in civil society. 

To accomplish this work, K-12 schools will need to have the appropriate kind of school cultures and professional development opportunities for school staff. Our schools also need to be treated as if they hold the fate of our nation in their hands.

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Copyright © 2012 John Curtis Jones and Cooperative Artists Institute. All rights reserved

About Our Arts-based Simulations

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To prepare citizens to think and create "outside the box," K-12 schools have to provide experiences that provide their students with the opportunity to think and create "outside the box." This mode of thinking and creativity is facilitated when our students have experiences that inspire them to move beyond the classroom and the school and into the world. One way of accomplishing this goal without leaving the classroom is for educators to work with their students to design arts-based simulations that recreate reciprocity, market, and other academic situations that mimic the real world.

When these teaching and learning simulations are about obtaining knowledge about markets, they need to provide open ended situations that closely reflect current social, cultural, economic, and ecological realities. They need to provide students with experiences that mimic reality's many unexpected twists and turns.

To provide students with a historical perspective on markets, the simulations need to present these social and economic realities as they were understood in different historical periods. This will help students appreciate these social and economic institution's power to change people's consciousness over time. This overview also helps students appreciate the ability of the individual and the community to change these social and economic institutions by being conscious of them and what they are doing to the people around them. To attain this learning, the lesson needs an historical timeline that extends from the Neolithic Age to the present.

Using performing and visual art media and computer generated content provides the materials to build these teaching and learning simulations. To reflect the real world, these teaching and learning simulations need to present reality with its many unexpected twists and turns. This process works best when a teacher partners with an artist/educator who can be a resource in helping the students and teachers design the simulations they will use. The artist/educator also serves as an adult mentor for the students, since they can model what it is like to be engaged in creative and productive activities.

These simulations are a key component in the PWSC's approach to helping school communities implementation their school transformation strategy. Simulations provide safe environments where school community members can reenact reciprocity and market transaction, replicate student and teacher challenges and concerns, offer hypothetical solutions to problems, analyze school change issues, and tryout new practices with little or no risk to the school and its members.

Staff, students, and parents learn to value the use of these simulations. They do more than help students understand reciprocity and markets. They help to uncover the student, the school community, and the school change strategy's strengths and weaknesses. Simulations provide the key that uncovers hidden troublesome school challenges early enough, so they can be dealt with easily. Generally speaking, simulations can help school members deal successfully with difficult, multifaceted problems that have multiple contributing factors and more than one overarching cause. The typical, static, non-participatory presentation and decision-making methods do not work well with these kinds of complicated, multifaceted school issues and academic challenges.
Realistic simulations enable all those who are responsible for solving an issue to become immersed in a real-time experience of the problem. The problem as a whole can be seen with all its parts simultaneously. This helps everyone to understand what is going on, spot problems, establish consensus, and work on solutions.
Listed below are some of our developers' engaging, fun-filled, performing and visual based arts simulations. They can serve as models school members can use to help them create simulations on their own.
  • Tribal Rhythms Celebration Performance simulates the Classroom Learning Tribe for a large audience and prepares students and school staff to establish it in their classroom.
  • Classroom Learning Tribe simulates the workings of a healthy, caring community that promotes authentic, caring classroom relationships and enhances teaching and learning and is available for creation in our Tribal Rhythms Curriculum.
  • performing arts, visual arts, and game activities use storytelling, writing, singing, dancing, and acting to discover, communicate, and deal with school change issues, resistance to new instruction strategies that bridge the achievement gap, and factional splits, bullying, and other school climate issues. This is also is available for creation in our Tribal Rhythms Curriculum.
  • Open Space Technology simulates a market place where the commodities “for sale” are transformational ideas that empower schools to change for the better.
  • Story of the Weakest and the Strongest simulates social relation- ships where power is abused and social relationships where the community's weakest members are respected and its strongest members are respectful.
  • True Story Theater's actors simulate school issues and conflicts that evolve out of social interaction, management issues, and school meetings conflicts using their brilliant play-back technique. Their work promotes empathy, insight, and authentic and caring relationships <>.

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Copyright © 2012 John Curtis Jones and Cooperative Artists Institute. All rights reserved.

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Preparing Students for the 21st Century and the Global Marketplace

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If Massachusetts' students want to successfully compete within the global marketplace, its K-12 schools will have to change some of the standards they use to assess their students. If the standard for student success in our globalized world is based on which students, first world or third world, work the harder and suffers the most, third world students will generally have the competitive advantage over their U S counterparts just about every time.

The reason for this disadvantage is quite understandable. Millions of third world students are extremely motivated by the desire to escape object hunger, the thirst for clean water, and grinding life-threatening poverty. They are better prepared to, as the Chinese say, "eat dirt," to work their way out of poverty by academically competing to obtain well paying first world jobs. Third world students are also generally more socialized than their western counterparts to succeed academically to honor their parents wishes to do whatever it takes to attain academic success.

First world students usually have far less suffering pushing them to study harder and more life choices that defuse any single, dedicated focus that is required to compete with their third world counterparts. This is why it is both unfair and a lie to treat our nation's first world children as if they are third world children competing with other third world children. This untruth is often perpetrated by people who are willing to represent this false choice to reduce the costs associated with K-12 education. This lie alienates our nation's children from the educational resources they need to compete globally, and it deprives our nation of the human capital it needs to succeed in a globalized world.

Our nation is more competitive when it adopts standards for school success that reflect our students' competitive strengths, not their weaknesses. Below are three education standards and 14-action steps that reflect our students' strengths. They illustrate our students' true status as citizens of our first world nation, and how this status should be used to enhance their competitive advantage in a globalized world.

Here are the three education standards that focus on our K-12 students' strengths in the global competition for a higher quality of life and the jobs, businesses, and professions of the future:

1. tap the strengths they have living in a democratic, multicultural civil ....society. This means understanding that our society has the wealth, ....the public and private capital base, and the dependable ....technological infrastructure to provide all the resources our students ....need to compete with students from any nation. More information ....about this standard is presented below;
2. strike a healthy economic and social balance between satisfying and ....modifying the demands of the global marketplace on their lives, ....their families, and their community. More information about this ....standard is presented below; and

3. students appreciate and realize their need for healthy families, ....communities, values, attitudes, and a civil society that has effective ....public and private institutions (i.e., schools, businesses, hospitals, ....etc.) people need to have a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life. ....More information about this standard is presented below.

Education standard one plays to the strengths of a people who have been socialized within a democratic, multicultural, and technologically advanced society. This is a significant advantage our education system is not adequately taping into. Those who set the education standards do not consider the weaknesses inherent in our third world competitors' rigid and authoritarian cultures that have one foot held prisoner by their ancient pasts.

Many of these societies dread the education of women (one-half their population), minorities, and lower status citizens even more than those who share these fears in our society. These societies fear destabilizing their rigid, paternalistic social and political systems. This holds down their ability to fully embrace the scientific method, democracy, and the rule of law. Their authoritarian legacy results in education systems that do not uphold the freedom to study and defend different points of view. What is taught often has a narrow ideological perspective that compartmentalizes knowledge and suppresses the broad base approach to understanding knowledge the global economy requires. 

Many Students educated in these systems are good at accurately and quickly manipulating abstract symbols to perform difficult but standard applications. However these students are not as good at manipulating abstract symbols to discover new applications.  In some cases, their creativity is also held back by an authoritarian culture that requires a strict deference to age, sex, and social position. Grinding poverty also plays a role in undermining the creative impulses, since it forces children to abandoned childhood too quickly for their playful and creative adult persona to develop.  

Education standard two is about preparing students for the needs of the global marketplace, the innovation economy, and its businesses. Our developers recognizes that our schools must graduate students who can effectively meet the global market's demands and if needed, modify those demands through civil, social, and political actions. This means having the ability to bring sound and relevant academic, entrepreneurial, and professional skills to an employer and, when required, having the ability to organize and undertake community actions that modify the marketplace's destructive tendencies.
Education standard three speaks to the need for schools to give our students the psychological and physical means to promote their family, community, and nation's well-being.  Students need to learn to replicate critical aspects that underpin our civil society, so the social structures they value are not lost to them and our future generations. For our students to compete best, they need to learn how to harness our nation's democratic and multicultural institutions. They need the opportunity to develop and practice their creativity within a school democracy that upholds civil rights, the freedom of information, and the rule of law.  As citizens, they will compete best, because they will know how to regulate negative, unhealthy aspects of the marketplace through their participation in the civil society and the democratic process. Since non-democratic, authoritarian societies cannot offer their students these experiences, their citizens' will be less developed socially and their societies far less politically and economically stable.
Fourteen Teaching and Learning Action Steps:

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Before creating the following teaching and learning action steps, our program developers consulted Jesse Sheridan, a leader and a successful innovator in the global marketplace. Jesse is a member of Apple Computer's Maps Team; he was previously a VP. of Technology at BroadMap, LLC. His consultations made us more aware of skills that are not being taught that our general public needs. Within a few months, we wrote 14 teaching and learning action steps educators can take to fulfill the general public's needs and teach entrepreneurial and global market knowledge. 
  1. Prepare students to be lifelong lovers of learning, so when they become workers and entrepreneurs they are infinitely more trainable, resilient, and able to change.
  2. Provide students with lessons designed to strengthen their ability to appreciate what is of value in relationships, business, technology and art, so they can see the “diamond in the rough” in a person, product, ability, or idea. This makes them workers and entrepreneurs who add value to whatever they do.
  3. Give students the capacity to compete at a world-class level in their field, manage conflicts effectively and humanely, and practice leadership and leaders support. This enables our citizens to become workers and entrepreneurs who are quick and reliable learners and leaders, with the expertise to attract investment and jobs to their communities and state.
  4. Teach students to listening to themselves and other people who may appear to be of high or low status, drunk or sober, or serious or foolish.  Help them not to allow a person’s persona to hide their unique genius, so when they become workers and entrepreneurs, they profit mightily from not "judging a book by its cover."
  5. Impart to students critical life survival skills (i.e., learning about healthy eating, making friends and allies, civics, community service, voting and effective political organizing, life and health insurance, retirement strategies, employment benefits, social security, banking skills, credit and interest, stocks and bonds, real estate, unions and collective bargaining, entrepreneurial skills, etc.). So when they become workers and entrepreneurs, they have the skills to individually cope with, and use collective action to moderate, destructive innovations in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
  6. Enable students to ascertain where their genius lies and give them the opportunity to develop it, so as workers and entrepreneurs, they will have the talent to create the jobs of the future.
  7. Provide students with the opportunities to use the performing and visual arts to communicate their academic or social ideas to others. .By doing these lessons alone or in teams, they can, as workers and entrepreneurs, effectively motivate, lead, or present their ideas to a person, a small group, or a large audience.
  8. Create curricula that engage students in designing and experiencing many things alone and in teams, so they have the time with themselves to discover the work they love to do.  This opportunity makes them workers and entrepreneurs who are more passionate, creative, productive, and psychologically motivated to create, or work on the jobs of the future. 
  9. Give students the opportunity to learn and perform academic skills in real or simulated situations by: integrating the arts and community building with social science lessons; integrating student .run "banks" and "businesses" with the math curriculum; integrating .theater, public safety, and social justice work with civics; integrating drum and other musical instrument making with science and technology; and integrating storytelling and classroom news reporting with language arts curricula. These experiences make .our citizens more flexible workers and entrepreneurs who can respond effectively to situations other workers and entrepreneurs cannot.
  10. Teach experiences that give students the capacity to build caring and authentic relationships. When they are employees and entrepreneurs in the workplace, they will be able to sustain a healthy, trusting connection with themselves and others and develop allies from different classes, cultures, and races.
  11. Give students team and leadership building skills using project- based learning experiences, so when they become workers and entrepreneurs they are able to create and maintain highly productive and innovative organizational structures that bring out the best in people and help get the job done.
  12. Offer students experiences and lessons that combine community building, performing and visual arts, academic and personal development skills, so when they become workers and entrepreneurs, they are able to express what they know.  They can also .maintain a healthy integration of all of the aspects of themselves, so they can cope with a chaotic, rapidly changing world.
  13. Teach sound preparation, research, and study habits, so when students become workers and entrepreneurs, they know how to be ready and confident about whatever they are doing.


.....14. Provide fourth through twelfth grade students, working alone ........and in a teams, the following entrepreneurial skill building ........experiences.
  • Establish situations and point out circumstances where students have the opportunity to learn how to be sensitive to changes in the big picture that will effect what they are doing.  Students need to know how to communicate what these changes are, identify relationships and patterns in both the big picture and its many parts, and use this knowledge in both predictive and constructive ways.
  • Create simulations for students where they have to take responsibility for an enterprise, and have to learn the preparation, communication, and teamwork skills to increase the enterprise’s chances of success.
  • Tell or have students read stories that engage them (like The Lord of the Rings or The Hunger Games) where the heroine or hero takes control of the future, crafts his or her destiny, makes sacrifices in the short term for a greater long term gain.  Then teachers need to use games and role-playing activities that set up situations where students experience this control and the feelings this control triggers within them.
  • Have student projects where participants practice commitment by seeing a project through to its conclusion. They need to know if they attained their objective or not, and they need to experience the benefits and feelings of self-satisfaction that comes from honoring their commitment, especially when there is a lot on-the-line.
  • Educators practice leadership and leadership support when teaching students when and how to choose employees, partners, and leaders.
  • Design fun, skill building lessons that have seductive distractions that tempt students to lose their focus. The lessons also make them aware the moment they are distracted and helps them learn to quickly refocus on the task at hand.

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Copyright © 2012 Cooperative Artists Institute. All rights reserved.

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Any School Member Can Implement This School Transformation Process

Why is it important that any school member can implement this school transformation process? Margaret Mead, a noted cultural anthropologist said that all social and institutional change starts not from governments or powerful corp- orations, but from small committed groups of people. Each school needs a committed group that recognizes that the world has changed while their school has not, and their students cannot succeed in this situation. The group provides the spark their school community needs to make the fundamental changes its students need.

If the issue was school reform, a strong principal or a highly skilled teaching staff might be enough. But it will not be enough if the challenge is to establish a new school culture that can prepare its students for the changed world we live in. We need principals and teachers who want to play a leadership role creating and implementing their new school culture.

To implement your school’s transformation process, you do not need permission. All you need is one other school member to create a school team and you can begin. This process can be started by a parent working with a teacher, a principal working with a few teachers, or a group of adolescent students working with a teacher and concerned citizens. Any group or combination of groups or individuals that make up your school community can use this website to jump-start their school's transformation process. Just work from the premise that your small group, like every other successful group, needs allies from inside and outside the school. And always remember that you and your teammates are the leaders that you have been waiting for. Then study this website, contact us below, share this website with other school members, and practice your leadership, group decision-making, and planning as presented in our school team building manual.

It is important to acknowledge that you and other school members have areas of school life that elicit concern. School members soon learn that they have little or no control over many areas of school life that concern them, but there are some areas of school life over which they have significant control. This school trans- formation process works best in areas of your school community where you have the most control. Dr. Ulric Johnson calls these areas your center of control. This is the psychic and physical space every school member and concerned citizen has to leverage their influence.  For teachers their center of control may be their classrooms, union, grade level team, or the schoolyard.  For parents, this center may be in their PTO organization or in any school group where parents and citizens have a seat at the table. For students it may be their peers, teachers, and official and unofficial student groupings. For principals their center of control can be the school governance and planning meetings they lead or the policies they seek to implement.

If a committed group of caring school members and citizens studies this website, shares it with others, and practices their leadership as outlined in our school team building manual, your school’s transformational process will evolve and expand throughout the school. Our highly effective school coaches and school team building manual are available to help. Consultations are free, call us at 617-524-6378 and request Amanda Fish.  

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Copyright  © 2012 John Curtis Jones and Cooperative Artists Institute. All rights reserved.

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How to Use the Website for School Staff Professional Development
To aid in your school staff's professional development, take the following action steps:
  • send the following website's address to all the members of your school community for them to study. This gives everyone access to the same knowledge <>;  
  1. how the PWSC starts its implementation strategy using seven comprehensive steps;
  2. the importance of schools;  
  3. proven strategies and techniques that guide our school transformation process;
  4. our use of performing and visual arts-based simulations that promote student academic development and the professional development of school staff; and
  5. how to establish school teams in your school for planning, development, evaluation, and more;
  • access the PWSC's Transformational Tools to learn about the programs, projects, lessons, and strategies that propel your school transformation process forward;
  • learn to use the PWSC's science-based way of dialoguing with self and others to give practitioners a greater ability to understand their school culture, their students, teachers, and parents, and improve instruction and learning;
  • understand what you need to do to prepare your school for the twenty-first century and the global marketplace; and
  • call the PWSC at 617-524-6378 and request a partnership consultation.
Copyright © 2012 John Curtis Jones and Cooperative Artists Institute. All rights reserved.
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