Relational trust and public perception of educational reforms
The purpose of the article is to define the ways of establishing and strengthening relational trust in the education system as a factor in the successful implementation of educational reforms.
A review of recent studies and publications on trust showed that the success of educational reforms to a large extent depends on the positive attitude of the pedagogical community and the public in general. The most reliable basis, and at the same time a prerequisite for positive relations, can be trust relations that are formed at all levels of interpersonal, inter-group, and organizational interaction in the process of educational reforms implementation. First of all, we speak of trust relations between the teacher and the pupil, the teachers and parents, the teachers and the school administration, and the teachers within the professional community.
It is shown that the Ukrainian pedagogical community suffers from a lack of trust at each of these levels of relations, which is a significant obstacle to the formation of a positive attitude towards educational reforms and their successful implementation. The analysis highlighted three approaches to strengthen relational trust, namely, 1) cognitive mindset, 2) social competence, and 3) management mechanism. As a cognitive mindset, trust relations involve a willingness to perceive specific relationships as predictable, safe, and secure.
A sufficient level of awareness of the planned reforms, as well as a positive experience of interaction with other actors in the educational process, plays a significant role to strengthen relational trust in educational reforms. As a private case of social competence, a relational trust consists of clusters of communicative skills and personal qualities like kindness, virtue, and competence. Building trust relations also depends on the level of self-confidence. As a management mechanism, the relational trust is a substitute and, to some extent, antagonistic to control. Prospects for the practical application of the results are related to the outlined areas of relational trust strengthening. In the context of educational reforms, this means building managerial, transparent, and participatory decision-making, devolution and decentralization of authority, peer learning, and the exchange of professional experience.