I am consistently asked about my views on leadership and what makes a good educational leader. It seems the more we know about leadership, the less we actually understand. Personally, I avoid the temptation to list respond by giving just another list, which in my opinion, reduces leadership to a set of qualities that seem to be interchangeable. Despite the rhetoric and hype, I think our understanding of leadership is still no more than a “modernised” version of trait theory and the charismatic leader paradigm.
To really understand leadership and leading we need to go beyond superficial observations. We need to look at the core values and beliefs that motivate and inspire the leaders in the work they do. I have two key convictions that continue to shape how I see leadership and doing leading. The first is the realisation that we are not providing today’s learners with the best education possible. This may be contentious. However, it is because of this conviction I have been outspoken about the need to change the model because we have;
- a curriculum that dumbs down student and teacher learning and places far too much emphasis on subject disciplines
- a mass production model of schooling that is based on certainty, control and replication
- a structure that ignores how students learn and disempowers teachers in creating personalised learning opportunities
All of this takes place in the changing context of today’s world and the fact that every other industry except schooling is undergoing transformation of one kind or another.
The second belief is that we are all learners. As such, I am here to say that I don’t have any quick fix solutions nor do I hold the answers to how we solve the challenges schools face. I am absolutely convinced that as a profession, we must learn how to do things differently. This requires honesty, commitment and a preparedness to challenge the sacred cows of the past.
My leadership and learning is centred around the need to create a schooling experience that honours the agency of every student and the engagement of all parents.