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What is Invitational Education®?


What is Invitational Education ? Compiled and edited by: Melissa Cain cain_at_findlay.edu Contributions by: William Purkey wwpurkey_at_aol.com John Novak jnovak_at_brocku.ca – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is Invitational Education®?

What is Invitational Education?
  • Compiled and edited by
  • Melissa Cain cain_at_findlay.edu
  • Contributions by
  • William Purkey wwpurkey_at_aol.com
  • John Novak jnovak_at_brocku.ca
  • Ken Smith K.Smith_at_patrick.acu.edu.au
  • Dave Chapman daciaie_at_aol.com
  • Jack Schmidt iaie_at_charter.net
  • Dan Shaw danshaw_at_NOVA.EDU

Education is fundamentally an imaginative act of
hope (Novak, 1996).
What is Invitational Education?
  • A systematic way to describe communication in
    schools and other human service organizations
    that results in learning and human development
  • A theoretical framework and practical strategies
    for creating effective schools and other
  • Foundations are
  • the democratic ethos
  • the perceptual tradition
  • self-concept theory

The Democratic Ethos
  • Invitational Education emphasizes deliberative
    dialogue and mutual respect.
  • Goal people work together to construct
    character, practices, and institutions that
    promote democratic life.

Democracy is based upon the conviction that all
people matterthat they can meaningfully
participate in self-rule.
The Perceptual Tradition
  • Each person considers, constructs, interprets,
    and then acts.
  • Individuals view the world through personal and
    cultural filters.
  • Behavior is based on individual perceptions
    (Syngg and Combs, 1949).
  • Perceptions are learned, so they can be reflected
    on and changed.

People are not influenced by events so much as by
their perceptions of events.
Perceptual Tradition.Continued
  • There is no such thing as illogical behavior.
  • What seems illogical makes sense to the behaving
  • Learning to read behavior backwards is a vital
    skill for practitioners of IE.
  • This skill is sharpened by understanding and
    applying self-concept theory.

Self-concept is the picture people construct of
who they are and how they fit into their
perceived world.
Self-Concept Theory (Jourard, 1968 Rogers,
1968 Purkey, 1970 and 2005)
  • Self-concept includes learned beliefs.
  • Beliefs are influenced by how a person interprets
    and acts upon events.
  • Self-concept is manifested in ongoing internal
    dialogue, or the whispering self (Purkey,

The whispering self can be monitored and
directed in positive ways.
Self-Concept Theory.Continued
  • Self-concept alone does not cause misbehavior.
  • As an example, a disruptive student has learned
    to see him/herself as a troublemaker and behaves
  • Self-concept is the reference point, or anchoring
    perception, for behavior.

Good self-concept is the memory of inviting acts,
which are accepted and successfully acted upon.
Everything the teacher does, as well as the
manner in which he does it, incites the child to
respond in some way or another and each response
tends to set the child's attitude in some way or
another (Dewey, 1933).
  • Every person has motivation. If not, they would
    do nothing.
  • Rather than trying to motivate people, inviting
    educators cordially summon them to see themselves
    as able, valuable, and responsible, and to behave
  • They trust people to be capable of overcoming
    obstacles and accomplishing positive goals.

Motivation is internal and continuous.
Basic Assumptions
  • Invitational Education is a metaphor for an
    emerging model of the education process
    consisting of five value-based assumptions about
    the nature of people and their potential. These
  • Trust
  • Intentionality
  • Respect
  • Care
  • Optimism

Invitational educators are optimistic about, and
committed to, the continuous appreciation and
growth of all involved in the educative process.
  • Invitational educators believe that
  • People possess relatively untapped potential in
    all areas of worthwhile human endeavor.
  • People have only just begun to use their many
    social, intellectual, emotional, physical, and
    spiritual skills.
  • Better things are more likely to occur when
    self-defeating scripts, i.e. negative self-talk,
    are held to a minimum (Purkey, 2000).
  • Human potential is always there, waiting to be
    discovered and invited forth.

Trust is derived from recognition of the
fundamental interdependence of human beings.
  • Invitational educators believe that
  • It takes time, effort, and collaboration to
    establish trustworthy interactions.
  • Trust is established and maintained through the
    interlocking human qualities of
  • Reliability
  • Genuineness
  • Truthfulness
  • Intent
  • Competence (Arceneaux, 1994).

Invitational educators believe people are able,
valuable, and responsible and should be treated
  • Invitational educators believe that
  • Personal and professional behavior demonstrates
  • Those who value respect will find ways for
    students to succeed.
  • The stance of inviting schools is that people
    have inherent worth, self-directing power, and
    personal and social accountability.
  • Respectful relationships recognize each persons
    right to accept, reject, or negotiate the
    messages sent to them, positive or negative.

Care is the ongoing desire to link significant
personal means with worthwhile societal ends.
  • Invitational educators believe that
  • The personal need for joy and fulfillment is
    realized in the process of producing something of
  • No aspect of Invitational Education is more
    important than the educator's genuine ability and
    desire to care about people, their growth, and
    their accomplishments.
  • Caring has its own ingredients of
  • warmth
  • empathy
  • positive regard

Intentionality is at the very heart of
Invitational Education.
  • Invitational educators believe that
  • Intentionality explains the how of Invitational
    Education and pulls together the optimism,
    trust, respect, and care that are essential to
    being a proficient professional (Schmidt, 2002).
  • In practice, Invitational Education focuses on
    the people, places, policies, procedures, and
    programs that transmit messages promoting human
  • Education is never neutral. Everything and
    everyone in and around schools adds to, or
    subtracts from, the educative process.
  • Invitational Education is characterized by
    purpose and direction.

Theory into PracticeThe 5 Ps
  • Human potential can best be realized by
  • places,
  • policies,
  • processes, and programs specifically designed to
    invite development, and by
  • people who are intentionally inviting with
    themselves and others.
  • The 5 Ps provide a framework to collaboratively
    address, evaluate, modify, and sustain a positive
    total school environment.

Just as a starfish applies slow and steady
pressure from each of its five arms to open the
single powerful muscle that keeps an oyster
together, focusing upon the 5 Ps helps educators
apply persistent pressure to overcome big
Just as a starfish applies slow and steady
pressure from each of its five arms to open the
single powerful muscle that keeps an oyster
together, focusing upon the 5 Ps helps educators
apply persistent pressure to overcome big
Just as a starfish applies slow and steady
pressure from each of its five arms to open the
single powerful muscle that keeps an oyster
together, focusing upon the 5 Ps helps educators
apply persistent pressure to overcome big
The 5 Ps Together Inviting Schools and Other
Invitational Education requires a holistic
mentality that encompasses everybody and
everything. While the following examples apply to
schools, they can be easily related to other
Invitational Education begins and ends with
  • Every person in the schoolteachers,
    administrators, food service professionals,
    custodians, counselors, librarians, bus drivers,
    and, most importantly, studentsis an emissary of
    Invitational Education.
  • People create a respectful, optimistic, trusting,
    and intentional society within inviting schools.
  • If policies, procedures, programs, or processes
    inhibit or inconvenience people, they are altered
    wherever possible.

Nobody cares how much you know until they know
how much you care (Purkey, 1996).

  • If classrooms, offices, hallways, common rooms,
    cafeteria, library, playgrounds, and restrooms
    are clean, neat, attractive and well-maintained,
    they show that people care about the entire
  • Even if the building itself is ancient, you can
    create an inviting physical environment
  • Spray paint old lockers bright colors.
  • Display indoor plants/flowers and home-like
  • Paint murals on dreary walls.
  • Display photos of children in positive activity.

Because they are so visible, places are a good
starting point to introduce the practice of
invitational theory.
Imagine a family visiting a school
  • The Dining Room has a French cafe theme. It
    features scenic murals on the walls, curtains on
    the windows, individual tables, and even paper
    place mats for student food trays. Flowers are
    carefully placed on each table. Classical music
    is playing in the background. If we cant hear
    the music, we are being too loud, the student
    guide explains.

As the tour continues, the family sees
  • Childrens work displayed to include all children
    and celebrate individuality and diversity.
  • Well-tended, safe playground with no litter.
  • Flowers, mini-ecosystems, and a butterfly garden.
  • Padded rocking chairs for reading aloud.
  • Throw pillows on the floor for reading or quiet
  • Agendas transparently posting the daily schedule
    and expectations.
  • Signage worded positively.
  • Clever postings demonstrating humor and love of

Policies include mission statements, directives,
codes, ruleswritten and unwrittenregulating the
  • Polices influence the attitudes of those involved
    in the school.
  • It is especially important to develop inviting
    policies regarding attendance, grading,
    discipline, and promotion and to apply them
    fairly and reasonably.
  • Policies should pass the litmus test of
    Invitational Education Do they reflect trust,
    optimism, respect, care, and intentionality for
    everyone in the school?

Programs should encourage active engagement with
significant content.
  • Programs that appear to be elitist, sexist,
    ethnocentric, homophobic, discriminatory, or
    lacking in intellectual integrity are to be
    changed or eliminated.
  • IE encourages conflict management and group
    guidance activities integrated into the
  • School safety is promoted and maintained through
    preventing conflicts before they occur.
  • Small group collaboration enables children to
    extend their interests and learn to work with

Programs, whether formal or informal, curricular
or extracurricular, should benefit everyone.
Processes can be simply defined as the way we do
things in this school.
  • Processes are characterized by a democratic
    ethos, collaborative and cooperative procedures,
    and continuous networking among teachers,
    students, parents, staff, and the community.
  • Invitational Education is a democratic process
    in which those who are affected by a decision
    have a say in its formulation, implementation,
    and evaluation.

The Jell-O Analogy
  • Everything is connected. The total school is
    like a big bowl of Jell-O if it is touched
    anywhere, the whole thing jiggles.
  • Thinking about people, places, policies,
    programs, and processeseach within a framework
    of trust, respect, care, optimism, and
    intentionalityprovides a strategy for systematic
    transformation of the whole school.

The 5 Ps of Invitational Education provide a
powerful framework for transforming the total
school environment.
Invitational Education identifies four levels of
functioning in personal and professional living,
called the Ladder.
The Ladder Levels of Functioning
  • From least to most desirable, the levels of
    functioning are
  • Level One Intentionally Disinviting
  • Level Two Unintentionally Disinviting
  • Level Three Unintentionally Inviting
  • Level Four Intentionally Inviting
  • It is possible for a message, no matter how
    high-minded and well-meaning, to be perceived as

It is the typical level of functioning that
indicates the persons and organizations
atmosphere and stance.
Level One Intentionally Disinviting
  • The message sent by intentionally disinviting
    people is that others are incapable, worthless,
    or irresponsible.
  • These people may excuse their actions as good
    for students, clients or patients.
  • There is no justification for being intentionally
  • People who operate at this level should be gently
    removed from daily contact with those they should
    be serving.

In this lowest level of functioning, behaviors,
policies, programs, and places are deliberately
meant to demean, diminish, shun, or devalue the
human spirit.
Level Two Unintentionally Disinviting
  • Level Two people are often condescending,
    obsessed with policies and procedures, and
    unaware of peoples feelings.
  • Their classrooms, for example, may be
    disorganized, boring, and filled with busywork.
  • Students and teachers in Level Two schools may
    have low morale and high absence rates.
  • In frustration, Level Two professionals may
    resort to Level One behaviors.
  • It is a concern when all 5 Ps are unintentionally

Professionals who function at Level Two are
typically well-meaning, but may not reflect upon
their actions.
Level Three Unintentionally Inviting
  • Many natural-born teachers operate at this
  • Unfortunately, like early aviators who flew by
    the seat of their pants, these teachers lack
    dependable guidance systems.
  • Thus, they may be uncertain and unpredictable.
  • If whatever accounts for their success fails
    them, they dont know what to do to next and may
    resort to Level One or Level Two functioning.
  • Consistency and dependability in education and
    human service require an intentionally inviting

Professionals who function at Level Three are
reasonably effective, but cannot explain why.
Level Four Intentionally Inviting
  • Level Four professionals are like modern pilots
    because they know how things work, they can fly
    on instruments over dangerous weather fronts.
  • They are persistent, imaginative, resourceful,
    and courageous, even when things get tough.
  • They affirm, yet guide students, deliberately
    choosing to be caring and democratic.
  • They focus on what is most important in education
    and relationships an appreciation of people and
    the value of their development.

Level Four professionals know why they are doing
what they are doing, so they examine and modify
their practices to continuously grow.
Just as teachers invite or disinvite students,
student behavior can invite or disinvite teachers.
Teachers, however, have the ability and
responsibility to consistently invite students.
Teachers are professionals and should be the
primary source of inviting messages (Purkey and
Novak, 1996).
The Four Corner Press
  • Invitational Education encourages individuals to
    enrich their lives in each of four vital corners

Being personally inviting with oneself
Being personally inviting with others
Being professionally inviting with others
Being professionally inviting with oneself
The purpose of education is to summon people to
realize potential in all areas of worthwhile
human activity, including meeting the goals of a
democratic society and participating in the
progress of civilization.

Corner One Being Personally Inviting with
  • Invitational Professionals see themselves as
    valuable, able, responsible, and growing.
  • One way to be inviting with oneself is to monitor
    your internal dialogue or whispering self
    (Zastrow, 1994 Purkey, 2000 Meichenbaum, 1985).
  • Those who learn to change negative
    interpretations into positive ones enrich their
    own lives and more deeply appreciate others
    inner worlds.

To be a long-term beneficial presence in the
lives of others, it is vital for professionals to
care for themselves.
Practice being inviting on your own behalf by
making a habit of having some alone time.
Corner Two Being Personally Inviting with
  • The basic assumptions of optimism, trust,
    respect, care, and intentionality point the way
    to being personally inviting with others, thus
    promoting promote positive relationships.
  • This is especially important in relationships
    with students and significant others.
  • Students, for example, are keenly aware of the
    nuances in messages received in school.

Most human activities involve interdependence.
Teachers can influence how students perceive
themselves by learning their names and interests,
sharing out-of-class experiences, expressing
pleasure when they perform well, and expressing
positive expectations for everyone.
Corner Three Being Professionally Inviting
with Oneself
  • In our pluralistic, democratic culture, helping
    professionals must attend to the perceptual
    worlds of students or clients.
  • They must also develop skill in utilizing new
    electronic sources of information.
  • To be professionally inviting with oneself, join
    professional groups, try new teaching or
    counseling methods, research, make professional
    presentations, read, write, and become active in
    a learning community.

Educators, as intellectual workers, have a
special responsibility to study the ideas they
The professional who does not invite him/herself
to grow runs the risk of becoming obsolete.
Corner Four Being Professionally Inviting with
  • Being professionally inviting with others does
    not involve bribes, tricks, or coercion.
  • In schools, the focus is on improving academic
    achievement, teaching to standards, showing
    children how to take tests, posting a daily
    agenda to make expectations clear, and
    celebrating mistakes as learning experiences.
  • Practical strategies are outlined in The Inviting
    School Treasury 1001 Ways to Invite Student
    Success (Purkey and Stanley, 2002).

Being professionally inviting with others
involves interactions with the school, agency,
and larger community.
Being professionally inviting with others is best
accomplished by building on the strengths
provided by the first three corners. The
successful professional is one who artfully
blends and synchronizes the four corners into a
seamless whole.

The Helix Internalizing Invitational Education
  • The helix is based upon the idea that
    professionals spiral up from awareness, to
    understanding, to application, to adoption of IE
    as a pervasive theory of practice.
  • There are three phases of interest from
    occasional to systematic to pervasive.
  • The helix is a 12-step guide to school

A helix is a spiral.
The Helix Phase I Occasional Interest
  • Phase I Occasional Interest builds upon the good
    things that are already being done in the school
    or other agency, with the objective of building
    awareness of and introducing Invitational

The Helix Phase I Occasional Interest
  • Step 1 Initial Exposure can happen by talking to
    a colleague, attending a conference, reading
    introductory materials, watching a video, or
    hearing a speaker.
  • Step 2 Structured Dialogue involves organized
    discussion following a program, speech, or
    meeting focusing on inviting practices that are
    already in place.
  • Step 3 General Agreement to Try involves seeking
    consensus to test a variety of new ideas to see
    what works.
  • Step 4 Uncoordinated Use and Sharing involves
    reports on what changes went well, what might be
    done better, and how.

The Helix Phase IISystematic Application
  • Phase II Systematic Application involves groups
    working to introduce integrative change within
    schools or other agencies, going beyond their
    classrooms or offices to shared concern for the
    total helping professions community.

The Helix Phase IISystematic Application
  • Step 5 Intensive Study happens when IE is
    studied as a system, aided by a trained leader.
  • Step 6 Applied Comprehension means that those
    involved discuss their comprehension of the key
    ideas and apply them in their school.
  • Step 7 Strand Organization involves organizing
    teams to focus on the 5 Ps People, Places,
    Policies, Procedures, and Processes.
  • Step 8 Systematic Incorporation involves regular
    progress sharing among the strand groups,
    communication among chairs, and networking with
    other inviting schools or agencies.

The Helix Phase IIIPersuasive Adoption
  • Phase III Persuasive Adoption is when
    Invitational Education permeates the
    organization. Leaders begin to provide
    leadership to others outside their setting.

The Helix Phase IIIPersuasive Adoption
  • Step 9 Leadership Development occurs when
    emerging leaders further explore the complexity
    of IE, including examining new methods.
  • Step 10 Depth Analysis and Extension involves
    deepening understanding of IE through critical
    analysis and comparison with other approaches to
    education or the helping professions. New
    initiatives are examined and modified in light of
    IE principles.

The Helix Phase IIIPersuasive Adoption
  • Step 11 Confrontation of Major Concerns involves
    taking a proactive stance on key issues that
    affect the school/community, like racism, sexism,
    and elitism.
  • Step 12 Transformation is when the organization
    functions like an inviting family and is a model
    for other schools and agencies aspiring to be

Human potential, though not always apparent, is
there waiting to be discovered and invited forth
(Purkey, 2000).
A democratic society is ethically committed to
accepting people as able, valuable, and
responsible, to valuing cooperation and
collaboration, to viewing process as product in
the making, and to developing untapped
possibilities in all worthwhile areas of human
  • The unique mission of the International Alliance
    for Invitational Education is to create and
    maintain truly welcoming relationships and
    environments that enhance life-long learning,
    promote positive organizational change, cultivate
    personal and professional growth, and enrich
    peoples lives.
  • Through this theory of practice, called
    Invitational Education, the Alliance also
    identifies and changes negative forces that
    defeat and destroy human potential.

IAIE was co-founded by Dr. William Purkey and Dr.
Betty Siegel.
  • The International Alliance for Invitational
    Education (IAIE) is a chartered, non-profit
    organization found in Hong Kong, South Africa,
    Canada, Britain, Australia, and the United
    States. The primary mission of the Alliance is
    to create, maintain, and enhance truly welcoming
  • See www.InvitationalEducation.net for details on
    how to join and help make our world more
    welcoming for everyone.

A Story about Michelangelos David
  • A little boy was watching Michelangelo chipping
    away at a block of marble no previous sculptor
    had ever wanted. As he saw David emerging from
    the stone, he asked, Sire, how did you know he
    was in there?
  • Just as Michelangelo freed David from the stone,
    inviting professionals must free people from
    preconceived notions of what they can or cannot
    do and who they will become.

Invitational professionals must have vision to
invite forth all forms of positive human
After a decade of high stakes testing, zero
tolerance, mandatory retention, and negative
labeling of students, teachers, and schools, a
renaissance is in sight. Invitational Education
is one voice in this renaissance. The aim is to
realize human potential through sustained,
imaginative acts of hope.
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