The following three concepts play a central role in the Climate project: knowlegde productivity, the corporate curriculum, and diversity.
The Climate project stands for Contextual learning in management and teaching in Europe. This means that our focus is on what it is that makes teachers and school managers learn. And how these learning processes may be stimulated or enhanced.
Knowledge productivity is a term we use to refer to this quality of schools and other organizations. A school is knowledge productive if it is able to signal new trends and developments, able to develop new knowledge and if it knows how to disseminate and apply this newly developed knowledge. As a result, such knowledge productive schools will prove to be more capable to innovate and to provide better quality education. Knowledge productivity has two main effects:
- It increases the innovative potential of schools (change).
- It adds to the ability to enhance the quality of existing work approaches (improvement).
Learning processes are needed to enable both individual professionals and their organization to be knowledge productive. These learning processes may be triggered by the environment in which the individuals operate. The work environment thus functions as a learning environment. It is this work-learning environment we refer to as the ‘corporate curriculum’.
The corporate curriculum consists of all the intended and unintended conditions that affect the learning processes among staff in (school) organizations. In order to emphasize that the concept of the corporate curriculum does not only include the intentionally planned elements in the work environment, we like to refer to this curriculum as something that is a mix of natural and man made conditions. The corporate curriculum may best be viewed as a rich landscape in which staff members and teams find their ways and construct know-ledge. An organization that tries to improve its knowledge productivity will focus on the following domains of learning (Kessels,1996):
- Subject matter expertise: acquiring subject matter expertise and skills directly related to the target competencies. The competencies related to acquiring subject matter expertise have been the main objective of training and development.
- Problem solving: learning to solve problems in new and ill defined problem areas by using domain specific expertise.
- Reflective skills and meta-cognitions: developing reflective skills and meta-cognitions aiming at the identification and understanding of determinants of successes or failures in learning.
- Communication skills: securing communication skills that provide access to the knowledge network of others and that enrich the learning climate within a workplace.
- Self-regulation of motivation, emotions and affection: Procuring skills that regulate the motivation and affections related to learning.
A school that has a rich corporate curriculum promotes learning among its staff and supports their learning processes or allows them to do that. As a consequence the school becomes more knowledge productive. The increased knowledge productivity shows in the quality of the school and in its potential to change if circumstances so require.
In the CLIMATE project we assume that schools that learn better will be better capable of dealing with issues of diversity. We believe the ability of a school to acknowledge and adapt to individual differences between students is an indicator of its quality and its ability to adapt. We use the term diversity as a neutral term referring to all conceivable differences between pupils or students either in background, culture, ability, motivation, special needs or talents etc.