The right drivers for whole system success


Leading Education Series 1


This paper is intended to provide a comprehensive solution to what ails the current public school system and its place in societal development – a system that is failing badly in the face of ever complex fundamental challenges to our survival, let alone our thriving as a species. What follows is a ‘big’ proposal. Once started the ‘four drivers’ feed on each other as a system in motion. Most important, the timing is right.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended virtually every aspect of humanity as we know it, shaking current civilisation to its foundation. Amidst the death and destruction is a disruption so fundamental that it loosens and discombobulates the system in a way that creates openings
for transforming the status quo. Most significantly, it generates conditions
that are conducive to pursuing the very paradigm that I outline in this paper.

I won’t focus in detail on the pandemic itself except to set the context for radical change. The immediate consequence is chaos, impressively captured by Nicholas Christakis (2020) in his analysis, Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live. Using past pandemics and current developments Christakis analyses what he labels as ‘the immediate pandemic period’, ‘the intermediate pandemic period’ and
‘the post-pandemic period’ – a time span covering 2020 to 2024. In practical terms, humans will grapple with chaos, survival, innovative breakthroughs, destructive elements, and more. The best stance we can take is to know that almost everything will be different. In short, this prolonged ambiguity creates a tangible opportunity to make positive change happen.

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6 Chapters

42 Pages

In 2011, CSE published Professor Fullan’s influential paper, Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform. In 2021, he argues that the current model for education is badly out of date and now is the time to focus on identifying and getting the ‘right drivers right’. He explores four wrong and four right drivers, their relative weaknesses and strengths and how to change what he regards as a ‘massively discredited paradigm that we encounter day after day’. The best way forward, he concludes, is to use the four right drivers to create new realities and pockets of critical masses, returning hope to its rightful place – as an act of will to create a better future. 

About the author.

Geoff Masters

Michael Fullan, OC, is the Global Leadership Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning and a worldwide authority on educational reform, with a mandate of helping to achieve the moral purpose of all children learning.

Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), the University of Toronto, Michael advises policymakers and local leaders around the world to provide leadership in education. He received the Order of Canada in December 2012. He holds honorary doctorates from several universities around the world.

Sample Pages

As complexity in the world has evolved, Wellbeing and Learning represent an integrated concept. You cannot be successful on one, without the other.

Michael Fullan

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