Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
James W. Keefe
A system is a group of parts that operate together and influence the operation of the whole. The characteristics of a system are properties of the whole and not of the parts. Human bodies, schools, factories, buildings, airplanes, and automobiles are examples of familiar systems. School reform is like that. Many schools are not unified systems, but collections of parts (programs) that have been brought together at different times for differing reasons. They were never designed to work together. They just happened that way because of periodic accretions or unchallenged tradition. Schools, like all systems, operate according to the first principle of systems thinking: Structure influences behavior . A system functions in a certain way because of its structure. In a very real sense, a system causes its own behavior. The systemic structure of a school is the pattern of relationships among the key components of its organization. Most schools ...