C J Koh Professorial Lecture 2011: Professor Andy Hargreaves

C J Koh Professorial Lecture 2011: Professor Andy Hargreaves

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (NIE/NTU), Singapore is organising the C J Koh Professorial Lecture entitled The Five Fallacies of Educational Reform, to be delivered by Professor Andy Hargreaves.

Professor Hargreaves is Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College.

The series of C J Koh Professorial Lectures has been made possible through a donation of S$1.5 million to the Nanyang Technological University Endowment Fund by Mr Ong Tiong Tat, executor of the late lawyer Mr Koh Choon Joo’s (C J Koh) estate. The endowment serves the programme of the Koh Choon Joo Professorship in Education. An additional sum of S$500,000 was donated to the endowment fund for the awards of the Pradap Kow (Mrs C J Koh) Scholarship in Higher Degrees in Education.

The Five Fallacies of Educational Reform


We are in the midst of a great global transformation in education which is being driven in many ways by large and powerful business interests and perspectives that support reform agendas which standardize curriculum and instruction, concentrate primarily on learning that is economically useful more than socially valuable, promote increased competition and rewards systems among teachers and schools, and advocate turnarounds that are swift and entail wholesale replacements of leaders and staff. If we want to improve as teachers, we do not copy the biggest teachers or the most powerful teachers. If we want to learn from other countries, we would be ill advised to learn only or mostly from the biggest and most powerful ones. And if we want to learn from other sectors such as business, it is important to be guided not by those who have the most dollars or the greatest influence. Best practice and next practice comes about by learning from the best, not the biggest.

This lecture draws on two sets of data to question these assumptions and directions. First are the findings of best practice and next practice in some of the world’s highest performing educational jurisdictions, that Professor Hargreaves has studied personally eg Finland and Alberta. Second are the findings from a study of organisations that perform above expectations in business, sport and education. The findings of these two sets of studies across different countries and sectors point to five common fallacies of educational change that may represent the perspectives of large and powerful business and what it wants public education to become; but of the highest performing business, sporting organisations or educational systems. The five fallacies concerning leadership and change practices that are allegedly but mistakenly transferable from other sectors in the pursuit of higher standards and stronger performance are: 

  • The Fallacy of Speed: Effective turnarounds can and should be quick.
  • The Fallacy of Substitution: Effective turnarounds require wholesale changes of leadership and staff.
  • The Fallacy of Numbers: Tough targets and bottom lines matter most.
  • The Fallacy of Standardisation: Standardisation and prescription yield better results.
  • The Fallacy of Competition: High stakes competition raises standards and improves results.

 Event Details

Date:         Thursday, 17 February 2011
Time:         3.30pm – 5.00pm
Venue:      Auditorium, Civil Service College
                   31 North Buona Vista Road

About the Speaker

Andy Hargreaves is the Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. The mission of the Chair is to promote social justice and connect theory and practice in education.

Before moving to Boston, he taught primary school and lectured in several English universities, including Oxford. Prior to coming to Boston College, he was co-founder and director of the International Centre for Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Toronto. He has been awarded visiting professorships in the US (Regents Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz), Canada (Noted Scholar, University of British Columbia), the UK (University of Nottingham, University of Manchester and the Institute of Education in London), Hong Kong (Onwell Fellow), Sweden, Japan (awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) and Singapore (C J Koh Professor, National Institute of Education).

In 2010, Andy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Scandinavia’s oldest university, Uppsala in Sweden; other recent recipients having included Nelson Mandela and Jane Goodall. He has received the Whitworth Award for outstanding contributions to educational research in Canada, was awarded a writing residency at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy by the Rockefeller Foundation to write Teaching In The Knowledge Society; and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK in 2010. In 2010, he was given the Contribution to Professional Development Award from Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council), the organisation’s “highest honour”.

Andy is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Educational Change. He is leading editor of the first and second International Handbooks of Educational Change, published in 1998 and 2010. He has authored or edited more than 30 books (all but three of them with other colleagues). A number of these have achieved outstanding writing and book awards from the National Staff Development Council, the American Educational Research Association, the American Libraries Association and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and are translated into many languages.

His most recent books are Sustainable Leadership (with Dean Fink, 2006), Change Wars (with Michael Fullan, 2008), and The Fourth Way (with Dennis Shirley, 2009). Andy’s current research is on successful educational change strategies in high performing schools, districts and countries; organisations that perform beyond expectations in business, sport and education; and special education reform strategies achieved through whole-school changes that also benefit all students.

Andy is a researcher, writer, consultant and adviser. He has addressed international organisations such as the World Bank, OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNESCO, the Soros Foundation, the European Union, the International Baccalaureate, the International Congress of Principals, the European School Heads Association, the Universities of Latin America and the International Congress of School Effectiveness and Improvement. Andy has delivered invited addresses and provided staff development in 37 US states, 42 countries and all Australian states and Canadian provinces.

Further details are available at www.andyhargreaves.com.