The GL model was developed as a consequence of an article a few years ago in a magazine that was written by management consultants. The article implied that things such as the size of your endowment funds, the quality of facilities, the salary of teachers, etc all were indicators of a good school. We believe that a mark of the good school is the quality of learning.
The purpose of the development of the model was to help guide Danube International School Vienna as it strives to fulfill its vision 'to be a world leader in international education'.
A byproduct of the development of the model was to share the model with other educators in order to potentially improving learning in other institutions apart from our own by encouraging them to think about the various elements that we think consist of 'Great Learning´.
Another purpose behind the GL model was to move the educational discussion about what constitutes a good school away from some management consultancy approaches that focus on facilities, endowment funds, school fees, staff salarys, etc back to the core idea of learning.
The model developed as a direct consequence of the work by Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi and Damon of the topic of Good Work and the subsequent work of those members of the Good Work team and the Good Project group.
The term Good Work was initially defined as 'work of expert quality that benefits the broader society' by Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi and Damon in 2001 and is now formally defined by the three principal investigators of the GoodWork Project as work 'that is of high quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to the worker.' (The GoodWork Project: An Overview, 2011). The definition of the term that impacted most on the idea of 'great learning' was 'work that is of excellent technical quality, work that is ethically pursued and socially responsible and work that is engaging, enjoyable and feels good.' by Gardner in 2007.
The School Community Committee (SCC) of Danube International School Vienna which comprises of 3 students, 3 parents, 3 staff, 3 leaders and a non-voting Director who was the chair of the SCC work on the outline of the school definition of Great Learning and decided on 'Great Learning is of an excellent technical quality, with an understanding of the individual, that is ethically pursued and socially responsible and learning that is engaging, enjoyable and feels great.'
The GoodWork Project develop a model based on various controls that push or pull (force or attract) individuals to carry out good work. They noted four different sources of good work: the individual worker, the domain, the field and sources beyond the profession. Slightly different variations of the model were developed but the one used in diagram on this webpage began the process of developing a similar model for Great Learning. The controls on Values and Self-Image in Personal Standards, on Traditions, Requirements of the Job, and Professional Codes in Cultural and on Extrinsic Benefits and Power in Outcomes all made the transition into the GL model in some form.
In developing the model, we realised the significance of various systems of learning taking place within other learning systems, which is reflects Stafford Beers approach in his Viable Systems Model. This is particularly noted were classrooms are nestled within the school and the school is nestled within various external controls.
The design of the 'Great Learning' model involved several iterations with feedback from individuals within the school as well as the structured involvement of the academic staff. The model has also been presented at the CEESA conference in Vienna in 2014 and at the IBO regional conference in Rome in 2014. Participants at these conferences after the model was presented gave suggestions for improvements.
The selected elements and the aspirations attached to them are in some ways unique for our school. They were selected after various staff read different documents and proposed different elements for the model. Our goal was to attempt to based the elements and aspirations of research that related positively to our understanding of 'great learning'. We are however practitioners and not researchers, so it is possible for research to show our thinking is outdated and incorrect.
However, one of the most positive sides for our school in approaching developing a model on 'great learning' has been the conversations that this has started on learning and we hope will continue to focus on learning.