I first wrote about Andy Hargreaves and the 4th Way back in October, (with an important update added to the bottom of the post in early November). The pyramid below is updated from that post, taking feedback from Hargreaves himself.

Administrators from our district met and discussed The 4th Way last Thursday and we were guided through some activities to encourage us to explore the text and to examine which of Hargreaves’ principles we are doing well, and which ones we need to focus on.

Andy Hargreaves 'The 4th Way' - Pyramid by David Truss

I like the recommendation of putting ‘Teaching and Learning’ at the top of the pyramid. I think that puts the role of both educators, (as a teacher and a learner), and students where they belong at the focal point of what is both important in education and meaningful in educational change.

We need to have a common, clear, inclusive and inspiring vision.

We need to collaborate at all levels of community… it really does take a village to raise a child.

We need to be active learners taking part in lively learning communities, networked with effective role models.

We need to be responsible and effective teaching professionals, lead learners fostering meaningful learning.

During our session, we got to see some exclusive video interviews that Hargreaves gave, and I realized that embedded, but not explicitly mentioned, in my pyramid is the idea of professionalism… This is where ‘Responsibility’ comes from. To me Hargreaves’ notion of “Responsibility before Accountability” is key to the 4th Way. The following was completed on a little reflection card we filled out and handed in, (I’m glad I took a photo of it first).

I wrote:

We need to be unified and collaborative.

Not unions, but professional organizations.

Not corporations, but community leaders.

Not top-down, but shared leadership.

Not teachers, but co-learners.

Not standardization, but a process of inquiry.

Looking at this list, it unintentionally follows the patter of: Not accountability, but responsibility.

The key here it to recognize that there is a coexistence between the two and that this isn’t a dichotomy, but rather a priority: “Responsibility before Accountability”.  This is where schools and school districts have the greatest opportunity to change.

In The 4th Way, Hargreaves says,

“Unions have missed an opportunity to raise professional standards among all their members and increase their credibility and transparency among the public. Government, meanwhile, has kept an iron grip on defining and controlling professional standards. This is professionalism without power—and teachers know it.”

Professionalism, and the ensuing responsibility that comes with it, empowers educators at all levels. In the end, we need to be accountable, but not to governments, or unions, or corporations. We need to be accountable to ourselves as professionals and educators, and we need to be accountable to the student in our schools.

Professionals acting responsibly and holding themselves, and others, accountable in the interest of teaching and learning.

Sometimes that means that we let corporations into our schools but we dictate the conditions and we expect them to be there as community leaders, not advertisers, (and we hold them accountable to this if they don’t do it responsibly). Sometimes we need to let parents and community members share their expertise and not worry that they are doing something that is defined as a union job. Sometimes, (dare I say often), we need to let students dictate what they want to learn, because they are passionate about an area of interest, and let go of the curriculum.

Maureen Dockendorf said at the end of the session about Hargreaves’ 4th Way, “It’s not a program, it is a set of principles”.

This is a great point, as The 4th Way is not prescriptive. Expanding on this idea in a discussion with Dave Sands later he said, “It’s not steps or even a set of principles, it is a philosophy or a way of being.”

Dave continued, “This is how an organization, a society, and a world moves to a greater state of consciousness. This is how we take responsibility and ultimately move to accountability.”

On a final note look at what I highlighted above:

Professionals acting responsibly and holding themselves, and others, accountable in the interest of teaching and learning.

Do you notice where the power lies is in that statement?

– – – – – – – – – – – –

4th Way Admin wordle v2- April 23, 2009

This wordle was created by our administrators putting one word on a Post-it note to reflect on what they thought of our session together and/or of Hargreaves 4th Way.

11 comments on “Hargreaves and the 4th Way [Part 2]

  1. Hi there David,
    I personally believe that everything Hargreaves has written is an essential road map for the future of learning in the 21st century…where teachers move from the centre and become “lead learners” and not teachers because learning goes on and on and does not end.
    Inclusive education starts with attitudes and beliefs and ends with people who are able to learn, unlearn and relearn(a gr8t tweet I borrowed)

  2. Well said Silvana!

    I re-read this today before going to see Andy Hargreaves. As much as I have tried to synthesize and add meaning to his Fourth Way, I cannot express how insightful he is in just a couple posts.
    He spoke to all of our partner groups including the District Student Leadership Council, and I got to go as one of their sponsors. Andy gave these students an equal voice in ‘our’ conversation and he was a master at pulling wisdom out of what the group shared and pinpointing why these insights were relevant to a new way of looking at things.

    Here are a few of his quotes I shared on Twitter.
    Hargreaves' Quotes
    Thanks for a great session Andy!

Comments are closed.