Schools That Learn LO23064

Steve Eskow (
Thu, 28 Oct 1999 13:03:13 -0600

Replying to LO23018 --


Fascinated to learn that you are from the community college world, and
that you have been researching the community college as a learning
organization: the community college was my world for one whole career.

I do not know which community college in which state you are part of, but
it is probably safe to look into a crystal ball and predict that your
colllege has the following characteristics, and does the following things:

1. It says that it offers programs and services that take their shape from
the needs of the local community;

2. Despite this, its form and structures are identical to those found
elsewhere: it uses the Carnegie credit system; a 3-credit course meets 150
minutes a week; a "full time" student take 4 or 5 "courses" each
"semester" or "quarter"; students are graded "A" to "F"; 60 or so credits
leads to a "degree"...

3. The curriculum that your community apparently needs is quite similar to
those elsewhere: a year of English, probably called English 101-102 is

The point of all this is to suggest that community college's learning of
new ways as a Learning Organization is limited by its zones of freedom:
and this boundaries are set not by the community, or the college faculty,
but by the regulations and the various external regulators.

My own hunch is that "structure talks": the form of the community college
sets limits on how much improving, how much learning it can do, just as
the form of the Pony Express set limits as how much improving that
organization could do: you could do a lot of training into a rider and his
horse, but the structural limitations of thge Pony Express system set
bounds to the amount of improvement possible.

If this thesis is at all right, no matter how much TQM'ng and how LO'ing a
community college does, very little improvement that the student can sense
and feel and profit from will occur.

Is there evidence, other than anecdotal and self-congratulatory by
experimenting faculty, to the contrary?

Steve Eskow

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