This way of thinking and taking action has been evolving over many decades, but it reached its widest audience with the 1990 publication of ‘The Fifth Discipline’ by Peter Senge.” (2003)

The Charter school has a unique opportunity to implement the principles of Peter Senge, and most particularly the principles associated with the ‘learning organization’ and from a perspective noted in the statement of Senge that it is very unlikely that the “deep systemic problems that afflict our institutions and society…” will find correction until “the ability to honor and integrate theory, personal development and practical results…” has been rediscovered since it is seemingly a lost ability. (Senge, 1997)

Senge states that change may very well involve “returning to an older model of community: traditional societies that gave respect to elders for their wisdom: teachers for their ability to help people grow, and warriors, weavers, and growers for their life skills.” (1997) it is important to note the statement with which Senge concludes this work in writing as he states: “Our responses may lead us, ironically, to a future based on more ancient — and more natural — ways of organizing: communities of diverse and effective leaders who empower their organizations to learn with head, heart, and hand.” (1997) This requires that each individual community school take the responsibility that older generations previously took in their systems and that community members shift the burden back to themselves for the state of affairs in their local schools.

Peter M. Senge, in the work entitled: “Communities of Leaders and Learners” published in the 75th Anniversary Issue of the Harvard Business Review (1997) states: “Increasingly, successful organizations are building competitive advantage through less controlling and more learning — that is, through continually creating and sharing new knowledge. The implications this change will have for the theory and practice of management are impossible for us to overestimate.” Senge states that the myths surrounding leadership roles must be put aside and specifically those which view leaders as “isolated heroes commanding their organizations from on high.” (1997)

Today’s leaders must work in gaining compliance from those whom they lead and must understanding that “top-down directives, even when they are implemented, reinforce an environment of fear, distrust and internal competitiveness that reduces collaboration and cooperation.” (Senge, 1997) Building ‘a community of leaders’ within the organization that is a ‘learning organization’ requires that the following types of leaders are first recognized and then secondly developed:

1) Local line leaders, managers with significant bottom-line responsibility, such as business unit mangers, who introduce and implement new ideas;

2) Executive leaders, top-level managers who mentor local line leaders and become their “thinking partners,” who steward cultural change through shifts in their own behavior and that of top-level teams, and who use their authority to invest in new knowledge infrastructures such as learning laboratories; and 3) Internal networkers, people, often with no formal authority, such as internal consultants or human resources professionals and frontline workers, who move about the organization spreading and fostering commitment to new ideas and practices. (Senge, 1997)

Peter Senge states that that in the learning organization which is characterized by “…enduring institutional learning” three activities enable this type of learning in the organization as follows:

1) Research: the disciplined pursuit of discovery and understanding that leads to generalizable theory and method;

2) Capacity Building: the enhancement of people’s capabilities and knowledge to achieve results in line with their deepest personal and professional aspirations; and 3) Practice: the stuff that happens in organizations every day — people working together to achieve practical outcomes and building practical know-how in the process. (1997)

Senge states that in today’s world the process of creating knowledge “has become deeply fragmented.” (1997) it is all too often that institutions, universities and consulting firms carry out the three core activities as just stated previously to be research, capacity building and practice, and what is discovered is hardly ever implemented therefore the results are “ivory-tower research that is rarely ever applied…” (1997)


This work has reviewed the five disciplines as stated by Peter Senge in the work ‘The Fifth Discipline’ and has reviewed the work of Larsen et al. As well as other works in writing dealing with the principles of Peter Senge on the learning organization. Derived from this research is the recognition that the learning organization is one that is continually learning ever setting higher goals for learning. The learning organization is one that involves each and every team member in what is a bottom-up process of informing the organization, which includes the interaction of all team members in collaboration and cooperation. This concept applied in educational institutions will likely be more effective and successful than the presently used NCLB high stakes agenda in today’s schools.


Five Disciplines: Peter Senge (2008) Value-Based Management 25 Mar 2008. Online available at

Larsen, Kai, et al. (1996) the Learning Organization. Leader Values. Online available at

Senge, P (1990). The Fifth Discipline. New York: Currency Doubleday.

Senge, Peter M. (1997) Communities of Leaders and Learners. Harvard Business Review September-October 1997. 75th Anniversary Edition. Reprint Online.

Smith, Mark (2001) Peter Senge and…

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