Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Train Reading - Ray Bass's Teachers College to University

I was going to start bringing up the next post in the current higher education series, but I don't have time this morning.

While writing the series, my train reading has been Ray Bass's Teachers College to University: Higher Education on the North Coast of NSW 1907-1992 (The University of New England - Northern Rivers 1992). In a way it's a dry old book, part compendium, likely to be of most interest to those from the North Coast or with some connection to Southern Cross University.  I bought it in Armidale on my last trip to add to my New England collection and to fill another gap in my ever evolving history of New England.

However, its also a very useful book, for it provides an on-ground picture of the events leading up to the Dawkins reforms and their immediate impacts written from the perspective of some occupying a senior role first in the Lismore Teachers College and then the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education. Mathew Jordon's history of the University of New England, A spirit of True Learning, tells the story from the other side of the vast cultural and geographic divide that would finally make the networked University of New England the earliest and most spectacular failure of the change process.   

I will write a little more on Ray's book later, focusing on the things I learned. For the moment, I just note that the success or failure of change processes is determined not by the top down view from the board room, cabinet room or department, but by the way changes actually work themselves out on the ground. Unless you can establish a proper relationship (I call it point and counter point) between top and bottom your changes are likely to fail or at least have perverse results.

This holds as much in business as in public policy.    

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