A CONTEXTUALIST SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF EASY KNOWLEDGE

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Grazer Philosophische Studien 69 (2005), 183–205. A CONTEXTUALIST SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF EASY KNOWLEDGE Ram NETA University of North Carolina Summary Many philosophers hold some verion of the doctrine of “basic knowledge”. According to this doctrine, it's possible for S to know that p, even if S doesn't know the source of her knowledge that p to be reliable or trustworthy. Stewart Cohen has recently argued that this doctrine confronts the problem of easy knowledge.
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  • problem of easy knowledge
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Education
ow the world’s
most improved
school systems
keep getting
better Authors
| |Mona Mourshed Chinezi Chijioke Michael BarberThe authors deeply thank the over 200 system leaders, staff,
and educators whom we interviewed across the 20 systems
during this research. We further acknowledge the following
leaders and experts for their counsel and thought partnership:
KK Chan, John Deasy, Michael Fullan, S. Gopinathan,
Peter Hill, Alan Kantrow, Lee Sing Kong, Tom Payzant,
Andreas Schleicher, and Tan Ching Yee. The authors are deeply
grateful to the substantial and committed contributions of our
colleagues Eman Bataineh and Hisham Zarka, and our editor
Ivan Hutnik, without which this report would not have been
possible. The following colleagues provided valuable input and
interview support throughout our work: Akshay Alladi, Byron
Auguste, Tara Azimi, Alexander Busarov, Li-Kai Chen,
Marcos Cruz, Sidnei Franco, Andrew Mofft, Michael Okrob,
and Ramya Venkataraman. Lastly, we thank Nicholas Dehaney
for his design creativity.
AcknowledgementsHow the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better
Contents 9
contents
Foreword
Contents
Foreword 10 3. Sustaining 80
Preface 12 Collaborative practice: The user interface 84
Introduction and Overview 14 The mediating layer: The operating program 91
The approach 17 Architecting tomorrow: The CPU 97
Lots of energy, little light 20
How to get there from here 24 4. Ignition 100
Getting going 103
1. I ntervention 30 Never waste a good crisis 105
Through the looking glass 33 Nowhere to hide 106
It’s a system thing, not a single thing 37 Entering stage right 109
Prescribe adequacy, unleash greatness 52 The new leader’s playbook 110
Common but different 61 Staying power 115
2. Contextualizing 68 5. Conclusion 120
Break through, rather than break down 71
The guiding principles in mandating Appendix 126
versus persuading 71 Footnotes 136ForewordHow the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better
Foreword 11
There is a recent and rapidly growing appetite for figuring out and accomplishing what I call “whole
system reform”---how to improve all schools in a district, a region, a state, province of country. For a long
time, there has been the realization that better education is the key to societal and global productivity
and personal and social well-being. Only recently are we beginning to see that interest turn into specific
questions about how you actually go about whole system reform. What pathways, from what starting
points, are going to get results in reasonably short time frames? How do we actually ‘raise the bar and
close the gap’ for all students?
How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better—a report that examines 20 systems
in action-- makes a unique contribution to this critical global agenda. Building on their 2007 study but
with much more precision, in this remarkable report McKinsey gets inside the pathways. It sorts out
systems according to starting points and progression. These performance stage continua—from poor to
fair, fair to good, good to great, and great to excellence—are in turn unraveled according to intervention
clusters within given contexts. In each case it is very clear that all improving entities, even if their starting
point is dismal, are led by a combinations of leaders who are self-aware that they are engaged in a
phenomenon that the report calls ‘it’s a system thing’—a small number of critical factors that go together to
create the chemistry of widespread improvement.
We see the clusters of interventions, different for those starting from a weak base than those who have
already had significant success. We see the pathways playing themselves out in each type of context. We
see what it takes to ignite system change, what specific strategies achieve breakthrough, what interventions
build ever -increasing momentum, how systems can sustain improvement, and especially how they can go
to the next stage of development.
As someone who has worked explicitly on system change in several contexts since 1997, including being
directly involved in helping to lead whole system reform in Ontario since 2003, I can say that How the
World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better makes a one of a kind seminal contribution
to this dynamic and critical field. It couldn’t come at a more propitious time. Finally, we are witnessing
across the globe a robust anticipatory and proactive interest in OECD’s Programme for International
Student Achievement (PISA). PISA is no longer just a ‘results phenomenon’. PISA leaders are increasingly
getting at what lies behind the numbers and are thus generating key insights and questions. The How
the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better report goes further, much further, in
portraying the inner workings of successful pathways of reform given different beginning points.
We don’t have a perfect storm yet but there is one brewing. This report is invaluable for policy makers
and school system leaders who are or should be crafting a roadmap for improving their specific systems.
It furnishes a powerful analytical tool with its intervention data-base to help guide such action. It will
stimulate a wave of further whole system reform efforts, and will be accompanied by an associated body of
research that will help us assess and learn with very specific lenses provided by this report.
The world needs to become much more wise about what lessons to extract for systems at different starting
points, both with regards to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of system reform. This is no ordinary report. It has
captured action in real time. It will, by its clarity and compelling insights, catapult the field of whole
system reform forward in dramatic ways.
Michael Fullan
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
Special Advisor on Education to the Premier of Ontario12
In 2007, McKinsey & Company wrote a report on standards of assessment. The Appendix describes
the common attributes of excellent school systems our system selection criteria, as well as our database
titled, How the World’s Best-Performing School structure for the detailed evidence we gathered
Systems Come Out on Top. As we discussed its to map the experiences of nearly 575 reform
contents with policymakers and education leaders interventions made across the school systems in
around the world, one question came up time our research sample. Our purpose in this work has
and again: “How does a system with modest been to understand precisely which interventions
performance become great?” The leaders we spoke occurred in each school system and when, and how
to also wanted to know which aspects of a school these interventions interacted with each other and
system reform journey are universal and which are with the system’s broader context to deliver better
context-specific. Bearing these questions in mind, outcomes for students.
we decided to dedicate another major research
effort to understanding the transformation of school In our sample we included school systems that have
system performance around the world. undertaken a journey of improvement along all the
different stages of the performance spectrum –
This report is the result of that effort. from poor to fair, from fair to good, from good to
1great, and from great to excellent . This spectrum
Our focus here is in analyzing the experiences of 20 rests, in turn, on a universal scale of calibration
school systems from all parts of the globe that have that we developed by normalizing several different
achieved significant, sustained, and widespread international assessment scales of student outcomes
gains, as measured by national and international discussed in the education literature. Our findings How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better
Preface 13
Preface
are not, however, the result of an abstract, statistical the collaborations and tensions in their
exercise. In addition to assessment and other improvement journey; in yet other systems
quantitative data, they are based on interviews districts and schools were opened to us so that we
with more than 200 system leaders and their staff, could hear directly the perspectives from the front
supplemented by visits to view all 20 systems in line. Many system leaders used vivid language
action. to describe the journey their school system had
undergone: in Lithuania we heard of the “soup,”
Along the way, we have had the great pleasure and while in Hong Kong we were told of the “typhoon.”
honor of meeting with hard-working and talented We thank all the people we have met during the
system leaders and educators around the world, all course of this research and hope that we have
of whom have generously given of their time and accurately reflected their many insights.
provided us with unvarnished insight into what it is
that has improved their system. We have had many We have taken the approach we have in this report
memorable moments during our field research – in order to be able to support policymakers, school
certain systems, with long improvement journeys, system leaders, and educators in understanding how
arranged for us to meet the architects of reform systems with starting conditions similar to their
who led the school system during the past 15-25 own have charted a path to sustained improvement.
years (often pulling them out of retirement to do so). In sharing the lessons of such experience, we hope
In other systems, ministers of education and heads that the children of the world will be the ultimate
of teacher unions came together in the same room beneficiaries of their collective effort in crafting
to provide us with a full and transparent view of school improvement.Introduction
and Overview 16
Almost every country has undertaken
some form of school system reform during
the past two decades, but very few have
succeeded in improving their systems from
poor to fair to good to great to excellent.
This report looks closely at 20 school
systems from different parts of the world,
and from an array of starting points, that
have registered significant, sustained, and
widespread student outcome gains, and
examines why what they have done has
succeeded where so many others failed.
In undertaking this research, we have
sought to understand which elements are
specific to the individual system and which
are of broader or universal relevance.
We believe that what we have discovered
will help other systems and educational
leaders to replicate this success.