Using Appreciative Inquiry to foster positive change in NEO public schools

Submitted by More Better on Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:43.

Post thoughts and comments regarding the use of Appreciative Inquiry to improve public schools in NEO

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Appreciative Inquiry and its Potential for our Region

I have looked at many possibilities for Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in the region and one of the more interesting is the chance to make lasting change happen in schools.  I was first exposed to Appreciative Inquiry as an MBA student at the Weatherhead School, where I did work with my advisor, David Cooperrider.  David founded Appreciative Inquiry and has since been lauded for his efforts with the Uniited Nations, the U.S. Navy, the EPA, and Roadway/Yellow - among others.

 Appreciative Inquiry is a methodology for change that focuses on the positive aspects of a situation and the focus of 'strengths in such a way that weaknesses become irrelevant' (the late, great Peter Drucker).  The premise is that change begins the moment we ask the question - and that question needs to be carefully crafted to elicit information (energy) from as many diverse stakeholders within the system as possible, and to be as positively worded as possible.

 One application I see for Appreciative Inquiry in schools is using it to engage community stakeholders like parents and students with school board officals. teachers and staff to all dialogue and question one another regarding outcomes everyone would like to see for their school.  Included in this discussion would be potential positive changes for school cirriculum, or procedures, or services. AI Change efforts could also be geared toward greater collaboration and information sharing between different schools and districts.

    AI is very powerful because it generates a great deal of shared vision and passion as participants move along the 4D cycle of discovery, design, dream, and destiny.  It also allows participants to identify and build upon the positive core of the organization - the best of that which gives life to the system and gives it strength.  Problems are approached in a new way that is positive rather than deficit-oriented.  The problems are still resolved and actionable outcomes are still generated, but these take place without the negative downward spirals that can ensue from problem-focus.  I'd be happy to go into more detail with anyone that cares to hear or learn more, or might want to participate in efforts to use this methodology in their own sphere of influence.


Sudir, I would like to learn

Sudir, I would like to learn more about this positive energy.  I don't have a sphere of influence other than my own family, friends, and the people I meet online throught this group and others similar to it, but I think that if each of us begins to use this positive energy in our own little circles of influence it could reach a wide area.  Thanks for the information. 

I would love to see schools use positive influence and forego the negative when interacting with the students and their parents.  I think it would make a big difference for the students, and their parents, to hear and see some positive ideas being generated in their schools and in their communities and in their homes.  It can make a big difference in their lives, I am sure of it.

Here are some ideas to move forward

Sudhir, This approach has a lot of promise. Have you connected with Peter Whitehouse at Case? He works with David Cooperrider and has is also the founder of the Intergenerational School. Also, MaryBeth Mathews writes a valuable blog on teaching in the Cleveland Schools. See her blog here. MaryBeth is focused on helping kids understand the opportunities in manufacturing. She is working on a project with Cleveland Next. Learn more. She's an art teacher. At the last Meet the Bloggers meeting, she was telling me about the opportunity to engage her students. She could have some good ideas to pursue.


Ed, I have been reading Marybeth's blog for a while now and I agree it is valuable to see posts from somebody on the front line.

What is the Intergenerational School? Do you have a url?

re: Intergenerational School

> "What is the Intergenerational School? Do you have a url?"

Never mind. Here it is:
. Also there is extensive information on it right here on RealNEO, starting here.. (See all the related links to the right on that page)

The IGS is the type of

The IGS is the type of innvoations that we need to promote across our school system. AI provides a process to discover these potential connections.

AI applications with Schools

Ed, thanks for the comments.  I have connected with Peter and in fact we'll be working on a task force for a new Masters program at Case in Sustainability and Design - I'll connect with him soon.  And I will certainly follow up with MaryBeth and what she's doing with Cleveland Next - I happen to know her and have followed the RAMTEC vision in particular.  This brings up exciting thoughts regarding the possibilities of an AI summit for all the potential participants in the RAMTEC collaboration as well.

Sudhir: you're the AI wiz and RAMTEC is ready...

Sounds like a good activity for a roundtable. Why don't you plan one for early January - we'll get everyone interested in the room for a facilitated brainstorm on hwo should be involved and doing what, and move things forward from there.


Norm,  the plans are already in the works - just spent a good hour tangenting on the design for this but feel that what I reveal will definitely be worth it!  What a great opportunity to make lasting and effective positive change.


Review with RAMTEC

Get in touch with the RAMTEC folks and run through your ideas - develop them here and at