The Dynamics of Capacity Building

We tweak school plans and achievement contracts every year.  Mostly we do this with an eye to fixing problems that we see.  For example, we see low test scores in one area so we implement strategies that will at least bring us back to the provincial average (so that we are not too embarrassed by the Fraser Institute).

I guess this is fine.  Problem solving is a good thing (especially if you are a pilot and your plane is losing altitude).  But what if we wanted to move beyond being simply as good as the average?… as good as the status quo?

We see people doing great things in our schools every day.  We’ve all seen, or been part of, great learning experiences.  Dialogue about the assets in our system (versus the deficiencies) will keep our focus on capacity building and not simply restoring the status quo/average.  What if we could go beyond being effective to being excellent?

This is a plug for the power of Appreciative Inquiry.  Please take some time to check it out.

With the current state of affairs in B.C. it would be nice if we could get past divisive conflict to compromise, but it would be so much better yet if we could get to collaboration.

(Barrett, F. & Fry, R. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A positive Approach to Building
Cooperative Capacity. Chagrin Falls, Ohio: Taos Institute Publications.)




About Larry Espe

Superintendent of Schools
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3 Responses to The Dynamics of Capacity Building

  1. Jaimelia Turner says:

    Great post,
    Can you give me the title of the article/book title where you found the Dynamics of Capacity Building graphic by Barrett and Fry.

  2. I like the analogy to illness, health and well-being (although I am not sure about the “flawless” aspiration). Thanks for that. Can you give us the title of the Barrett and Fry text?


  3. lespe says:

    hi Bruce…

    I agree with your comment… Knowing how much work it is to challenge the big “T” truth that is the public education system, it would be arrogant to think we could ever attain “flawess” (the “next big T truth). I think we’re better off leaving it as a small “t” so that questioning and inquiry never stops.

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