School Effectiveness: Self-fulfilment Model

Schools are set up at a public cost to benefit students. Do students benefit from schooling? If yes, does the benefit correspond with the investment? In other words, how effective schools are. The question started staring at the policymakers with James Coleman’s Report on Equality of Educational Opportunity in 1966. Parents’ socioeconomic background was found to be a far better predictor of students’ academic achievement than schooling.

This report, followed by several others like Jencks, Husen, and many others, shook the conscience of the stakeholders in education. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed a spurt of research on school effectiveness all over the world.

Student learning outcomes – academic achievement – were considered the main, if not the sole, criteria for school effectiveness. PISA of OECD handed over an instrument for global comparability of learning outcomes of 15-year-olds in language, mathematics and science. PISA ranking of countries showed students perform in relaxed, happy schooling (Finland) as well as in high-pressure, high- tension schooling (e.g., Singapore, China).

In this school effectiveness framework, other stakeholders like teachers and staff, academic leadership, parents and the community are seen only as a means to students’ academic performance in the examination. Students’ all-round development is also sacrificed at the altar of cognitive development.

Teachers, staff, and academic leaders who spend 30-35 years of their life are prescribed to be satisfied with work-life balance instead of examining the opportunity of making work an integral component of happy and satisfying life itself. The happiness and satisfaction can be achieved by adopting self-fulfilment of every stakeholder as the model of school effectiveness. The top ends of Maslow’s (revised) Hierarchy of human needs – self-actualisation and self- transcendence can be achieved by adopting an all-inclusive self-fulfilment model of school effectiveness.

The essential components of the self-fulfilment model are satisfaction, happiness, excel in job (performance), and making up for missed opportunities of all – students, teachers, staff, academic leaders, parents, and the community. Like the best workplace concept of the corporate world, an effective school provides a culture of care, a clear definition of success, flexibility and opportunity to excel in the job, and relive and nurture unfulfilled dreams. For example, during their school and college days, many teachers of today dream of being a musician, a designer, a player, a dramatists with demonstrated evidence of their talents in their respective fields. Circumstances force them to shelve their dreams.

Effective schools ensure peace, satisfaction, happiness and self-fulfilment of all ` stakeholders, particularly teachers. Students engage better, learn better and perform better with satisfied and happy teachers. Finland is a good example. Therefore, effective schools should provide opportunities to all stakeholders to excel in their assigned jobs through care and mentoring and fulfil their unfulfilled dreams. They must get encouragement for their entrepreneurial minds and opportunities for innovations, a robust management of (Herzberg’s) hygiene factor, and can aspire for something more in life.

Instead of students’ performance by any means, the self-fulfilment model of school effectiveness promotes satisfaction and happiness, the opportunity to excel and fulfil the unfulfilled dreams of all stakeholders.

For a more elaborate discussion on the self-fulfilment model of school effectiveness, please refer to Academic Leadership: Enhancing School Effectiveness by Prof Marmar Mukhopadhyay, published by Routledge (London), 2023.