5 ways to cultivate complex, intelligent behavior in schools


Have a simple, clear purpose which gives rise to complex, intelligent behavior, rather than complex rules and regulations that give rise to simplistic thinking and stupid behavior. –Dee Hock

One of the most important resources within school communities is the professional judgment of educators. Consequently, a touchstone of all education policy and practice is whether it enhances or diminishes professional judgment.

By professional judgment I mean an educator’s ability to synthesize and evaluate what they have learned from their experience, from professional reading and study (including research), and from the perspectives of colleagues and other members of the school community.

That synthesis is then used to make judgments, in collaboration with others, about possible courses of action based on criteria made explicit within the school community.

Professional judgment is strengthened:

1. when purposes are sufficiently clear, simple, and sustained over time so that they provide a standard for the exercise of professional judgment;

2. through reflection on the effectiveness of a course of action in achieving those purposes both in classrooms and schoolwide;

3. through professional learning processes that include rigorous intellectual activities such as close professional reading, writing, and dialogue;

4. when research is viewed as a tool to inform professional judgement rather than a mindless prescription for practice; and

5. when it is examined and developed in a professional community.

Skillful teaching and leadership are bundles of complex, intelligent behaviors, informed by complex, intelligent cognitive processes, which can only be developed when given abundant opportunities for meaningful application.

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