Inviting School Success
Wm. W Purkey
ISBN 13: 9780534028916
Publisher: Wadsworth Pub Co, 1984
Inviting School Success by William Purkey, a Professor of Counselling and Development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, provides teachers and administrators with a way of thinking about what is truly worthwhile and valuable in schools and in education. Purkey’s premise is grounded on five principles: that all people are able, valuable, and responsible and should always be treated accordingly; that all education should be a collaboration between teacher and student and that education and learning are co-operative activities; that the process of learning is as valuable if not more so than the end product; that all people have great depths of potential which only need to have an outlet for expression; and that education and learning should be designed to invite people to achieve to their fullest potential.
Purkey posits that educators have a responsibility to create an environment which is engaging. To this end, educators should trust what we know and have the courage and imagination to invite our students into the learning process. We should give our students opportunities to explore concepts in depth as they choose. We should invite our students to have a say in what they learn and how they learn. Educators should make the work we give our students real, honest and challenging. We must hold our students as able to do what we ask of them while we provide them with the scaffolding which they might need to accomplish the work.
I know from all of my experiences in education, both as a student and as a teacher, what is possible when learning is an invitation to know more and become more – when it is empowering and not drudgery. In reading this book, I was reminded of all that I had disliked about school when I was a student and I was challenged to have the courage to be the kind of teacher I had always wanted and to give my students the kind of learning experiences that I had craved when I was in school. And in accepting the challenge to change what I thought my role as teacher was, I was set free. My sense of self as educator was profoundly changed. Learning became fun and challenging for not only my students, but myself as well.
To say that this book saved my sanity when I first began to teach English would not be much of an exaggeration, I think. I had a principal who subscribed to the ‘theory of the month’ club – read some new-to-him educational guru and adopt the pundit’s theories holus-bolus while jettisoning the practices already in place in the school without question. It was always, “In with the new and out with the old.” When the principal came into my English class to observe me in preparation for my annual teacher assessment, he wanted to know on what theory was I grounding my classroom practice. I had just read Inviting School Success and suggested that he read Purkey’s work and then we would have a theoretical basis upon which to talk about my teaching practice.
While it was first published in 1984, do not think that Purkey’s ideas are out dated or that his work has been supplanted by that of newer and younger educational theorists. Since this book’s publication, the idea of ‘invitational education’ has developed into a movement which has its own organization: The International Alliance for Invitational Education.