The application of Viable System Model(VSM) in the context of establishing, maintaining and restoring a Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service (COLTS) in a school : an organizational setting.
Nhlabathi, Zandile Florence.
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The establishment, restoration, enhancement and maintenance of the Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service (COLTS) in a school, remains a precondition for a successful Education System. Colts aims at restoring functionality in the schools with the view to improve the quality of learning and teaching activities. The COLTS campaign programmes were launched in February 1997 by the then President Mandela, to promote a culture of learning, teaching and service in every institution in the country. From the National to Circuit level the focus is directly or indirectly devoted to the Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service in a school. The Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service promotes the idea that it is the duty of educators to teach and of learners to learn. The question is how Learning, Teaching and Service structures, processes ensure viability with the application of a Viable System Model (VSM) in a school The Viable System Model is a powerful diagnostic tool to promote viability in an organization. Therefore, the Viable System Model is applied as a methodology for understanding structures and processes of learning and teaching in a school. The application of a Viable System Model in the context of learning and teaching is used as a consistent intervention tool to develop the organizational competence. The application of a Viable System Model as an intervention tool in managing the Culture of Learning, Teaching and Service becomes a powerful learning experience or challenge for schools. The core business of any school organization is learning and teaching; thus its mechanisms for identity and viability determine survival and success. This demands that the learning and teaching programmes or approaches need to adapt to the changing environment and the new approaches require a new way of thinking, research and learning. Therefore, the Viable System Model is applied as a methodology that is capable of improving performance in a school as an organization. It is used as a diagnostic tool to check the culture of learning, teaching and service structures and processes to ensure viability and effectiveness. The culture of learning, teaching and service context explores the usefulness of VSM in dealing with complex situations in the organization. The aim is to use a Viable System Model to improve synergy between learning and teaching autonomy of parts and the whole school. It is hoped that the usefulness a of Viable System Model in the culture of learning, teaching and service context will develop a school's competence. The restoration of COLTS is a challenge to both the Education System and school community. The VSM is applied at different levels of COLTS to make specific recommendations, taking into consideration the internal and external environment. The VSM theory is used to pinpoint the various systemic or structural constraints within and outside the school. For schools to succeed as adaptive goal-seeking entity, they need understanding and application of VSM. The relevance of VSM theory such as the idea of recursion, cybernetic principles and arrangement of functions at different levels provide organizations with flexibility they need to survive in complex changing environments. Through the application of a Viable System Model, schools are encouraged to learn and understand how change unfolds through circular patterns of interaction rather than linear patterns. The discord or common faults, constraints and harmonising elements in the COLTS scenario reveal that the relationship between school and the environment should be understood as ongoing processes that need to be maintained. Therefore, the COLTS activities should meet the business idea of the organization and the principles of viability. To achieve learning and development in COLTS context, schools need to practice new behaviour skills and integrate new skills into new ways of thinking and doing. The school has to seize the opportunities created by the process of using a Viable System Model as a tool for maintaining COLTS in school. In conclusion, personal living model and the Toulmin Argument Model are included as part of systematic management, reflection and learning experiences. The models are a self-reflective process of how I can deal with COLTS issue in my organization which becomes an on - going process for personal and school as an organization to develop into new thinking horizons in COLTS context.