Educational Research Journal

Bringing Narrative Inquiry to School Reform

2000.第15卷第1期(Vol. 15 No. 1).pp. 167–183

Bringing Narrative Inquiry to School Reform



Research on the massive, sustained, efforts to reform schools in North America and elsewhere shows dismal results. Educational systems are remarkably resilient and resist change initiatives. The three main theoretical approaches to school reform — the grand schemes approach, the individual school-based approach, and an approach that holds that change cannot occur — fail for four reasons. They fail to recognize: (1) that school reform is a complex practice/theory social process in which undirected change is inevitable, (2) that schools and their participants have narrative histories, (3) that school reform is an epistemological matter that involves issues of practitioner knowledge, and (4) that the educational reform literature dates to the last century. We draw on two decades of data on the study of change in one inner-city school. Rather than analyzing this data in terms of the accepted theories of school change, we develop an historical, narrative, understanding of school change. We critique the existing literature of school reform, offer an interpretation of one aspect of the dramatic changes that have occurred in Bay Street School, and give suggestions for conceptualizing school reform from a narrative perspective.

Keywords: school reform; narrative inquiry; change