Definition: ” a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.”

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


  • When it’s normal to attend meetings and pretend to go along with the flow and then leave the meeting and complain about it… and undermine the decisions that were made…it’s dysfunction.
  • When it becomes commonplace to pretend to trust each other and at the same time secretly solicit information and opinions from others because of a lack of trust… dysfunction.
  • When people who work for us, or around us, are not competent but we ignore it because they are ‘nice’ people…dysfunction.
  • When the administration and staff are okay with stapling new cover pages on old technology plans to meet compliance deadlines…dysfunction.
  • When we have standards and norms and they are routinely ignored…dysfunction.
  • When we write a beautiful mission statement and we all know, collectively, that there is a ‘snowballs chance in Hell’ that it will ever be achieved and most likely will be forgotten after being written …dysfunction.
  • When it is part of the culture to expect people to talk about each other critically and secretly…dysfunction.
  • When it is normal for the school culture to be cynical, critical, and dismissive of new ideas, vision, and change…dysfunction.
  • When people commit to things and then don’t keep their commitments and it’s okay with everyone…dysfunction.
  • When the staff feels they’re just mushrooms growing in the dark! Dysfunction.
  • When we can’t talk about our team and our possibilities because in our school culture we look at the world ‘us and them’…dysfunction.
  • When it’s common in our school to turn our backs and say, “Not my job!” Dysfunction.

People are people and from time to time we might behave poorly, it’s part of being human. We aren’t proud of our slip up; and we make up our minds to do better next time; and most of us do

What is most troubling is when we allow these things to become so common they seem normal. They become part of the culture. We don’t expect better. It’s just the way things are. We accept it. We live with it.

It may be that some of these behaviors have become normal in our situation; but they come at a price: lot’s of drama, lot’s of distrust, anger, and frustration.

We know better. We can do better.

It takes courage to confront the dysfunctions of a school culture. It starts with stepping forward to say that we can do better, that we should hold ourselves to higher standards. It takes a commitment to create those standards as a team, and monitor how well we live up to them.

In order to transform teaching and learning, we need to deal with the cultures which exist in our schools, otherwise, change will be a long time coming.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s