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Additional resources for Designing and Leading the Future School: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Student Outcomes and the Reform of Education)
While culture is a contested concept (for a full discussion of this, see Dimmock and Walker, 1998a, 1998b), it is here defined as the enduring sets of beliefs, values and ideologies underpinning structures, processes and practices. As culture constitutes the Recognizing societal culture in school design 37 context in which school design and restructuring is exercised, it exerts a substantial influence over, and provides a fuller understanding of, the whole process. It helps to explain how school design and restructuring is played out in different settings.
It helps to explain how school design and restructuring is played out in different settings. Moreover, it can be conceptualized at a number of interrelated and nested levels, from the micro (school) level to the macro (national) level. At least three arguments support the development of a cultural or crosscultural comparative approach to school design and restructuring (Dimmock and Walker, 1998a, 1998b). These centre on first, the suitability of the concept of culture for underpinning a cross-cultural comparative approach; second, the limitations of existing frameworks typically used in comparative educational studies, such as structural-functionalist models; and third, the pitfalls of ignoring the significance of culture in the adoption of educational practices.
A related reason why the term ‘best practices’ is unhelpful is its implication that there are right and wrong ways of teaching; for example, that direct teaching is wrong and that cooperative learning is to be preferred. This leads many critics of the term to complain that a ‘best practices’ approach is unduly restrictive and prescriptive on teachers, that it de-professionalizes their work and turns them into simple technicians of a ‘science’ of teaching. Such a view, however, represents a misunderstanding and distortion of the ‘best practices’ literature.