Learning in Mind

Rethinking the Purpose of Education

Articles on Transforming Education

This is a series about transforming, rather than reforming schools. The articles may make more sense if you read them in order.

Beginning with the article about metaphors on our sister site (Teaching in Mind) will give the reader a deeper understanding of these articles, which largely address how various metaphors used to conceptualize schools shape our perceptions and behavior.

Reforming or Transforming Education: More than Just Words

This article explores the business and machine models of education, how they influence reform efforts, and why those efforts typically fail to keep their promises. The idea of transforming rather than reforming education is introduced, and why transformation is essential.

How Can Education Be Tranformed?

Here we take a closer look at the meaning and implications of the word transformation, how it might apply to education, what might happen if education fails to transform, and some steps people can take to set the stage for transformation.

How Do Metaphors Influence Transformation

This article in the series on transformation examines the ways in which the inherent logic of the metaphors we use to conceptualize schools can enable or inhibit our perception and thinking. Five possible metaphors are introduced. The insights of school as a culture are discussed.

School as Community

The second metaphor—school as community is examined in terms of how it is reflected in schools, and how it influences our perceptions of school and education.

School as Hospital

The next article in the series on transformation focuses on how the school as hospital metaphor casts students as broken and teachers as doctors. Example: diagnostic tests, ailing schools, remedial (remedy) students…

School as Factory: The Greatest Barrier to Transformation

This article in the series on transformation argues that school as factory isn't a metaphor, but describes the ways in which America's public schools were deliberately modeled after factories. We also look at the profound effect the school as factory metaphor has had on the language, philosophy, and organization of schools.

School as Living Organism

The final metaphor examines the school as living organism metaphor, and demonstrates how metaphors that conceptualize schools as living things offer more appropriate and promising insights into the education of students.


Future articles will offer more information about current alternatives and ways in which teachers and others can build learning communities that serve 21st century needs.

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