I listened this week to people talking again about the ‘skills’ students need as 21st Century Learners. They spoke of their frustration that their community leaders didn’t ‘get it’. This made me think about the polorisation they were discussing; advocates talk of media literacy and collaboration while many schools focus on ‘skills’ that deliver the current measure of attainment – examinations. So what makes a ‘great’ leader?
Firslty I think they demonstrate an understanding that‘skills’ are a continuum that ranges from ‘reproductive’ to ‘productive’. Reproductive requires students to repeat a set performance to required standard. Productive requires students to apply their knowledge and skills to new situations that may be unique in that context. While technology that is powering social media and connected learning makes productive not just possible, but easy – we still have to recognise that to do so they need reproductive skills to be learned and practiced – and curriculum leaders that can understand that relationship – not just do as they are told – they have to know it.
In this regard I don’t support the ‘either or’ approach to learning. I get a chill when people talk about a ‘model’. We live in times where schools have to take new risks and media literate curriculum leaders need to be installed to inspire, advocate and bring new ideas to what has been essentially a reproductive approach to learning. Chris Lehmann leads by doing – and the culture that he creates fuels the wider community. You have to ask – does yours? if not, what can you do about that?
Your childs curriculum leader should be talking to parents and staff about
- Students interpreting situations;
- Calling up knowledge of strategies and procedures to solve problems;
- Students planning their responses – setting their own goals and asking their own questions;
- Students performing – delivering on the continuum – demonstrating collaboration, social sensitivity, fluidity – whatever may be characteristics of skilled performance identified.
If they are not creating opportunities to talk about these things with parents and staff – then don’t be suprised if little changes in anything they ‘control’. We need to design learning better and deliver reproductive skills by teachers who do that well, and pass productive skill based activities to others who are more media literate and understand how to leverage Web2.0 technologies. We don’t need to be ‘either or’ or ‘model’ something that has worked in the past, in another context. That is a huge risk and huge strain on everyone. We need people who can assess risks, take a change, but not be polarized or paraluysed by their decisions. “Risk recovery is more important that failure avoidance” as the guy from Pixar says. PBL is not a panacea for learning in the 21st Century any more than technology, the internet or laptops are. It’s the degree to which the curriculum leader can understand and mange students on the skills continuum.
Skilled curriculum leaders are using frameworks:
- to allow self-instruction;
- intensive reproductive learning workshops;
- workplace and authentic experiences to apply productive learning.
They must be talking clearly about the limitations of resource-based learning and the benefits of embedding flexibility in the programme of study. The must place value on the preparation of materials for resource based learning and offer flexible delivery options. For example – discipline intensive workshops, online self-exploration, and practical constructive.
Students need to select how best to learn – and not be placed into ‘either or’ situations, or no choice at all. I don’t think one teacher should be pressuring another is a productive use of time. They should want to do it, and understand why – because of the leadership. You simply don’t need ‘everyone’ – but you do need to elevate people who do amazing things with technology and renewed pedagogy to positions where they can influence. Right now, we still appoint people on time served and qualifications, and that is no longer a valid indicator of leadership ability.
I sympathise with the comments I listened to this week. Change in teachers, or even in groups of teachers – must be recognised, valued and enriched. In 2009, though the number of teachers who have extended their own continuum is growing, sadly the furstrations I am hearing have changed little in the last few years. How do we infuse curriculum leaders? How do we break the glass ceiling? How do we get then to authenitcally join the conversation?.
I think this is a powerful conversation we need to have again and again this year.
8 thoughts on “Leadership 2.0”
Being back teaching I find myself under enormous pressure just to keep listening to the conversation.
I love what you write in this post. I want to stay with this conversation.
I am one of those different teachers (who have no official leadership) and to my schools credit they do take me seriously, but change is still so slow. Mostly because they all want to be shown what to do before they will risk change… and that is just paralysing.
Anyway… keep talking. I for one am listening.
Dean thankyou so much for sharing this extremely thoughtful blog. This post of your has been, and certainly will be most beneficial by far, not only to me but my mates as well. Furthermore the part where you highlight the qualities of being productive and reproductive, just plays such an important role in our professional lives, as far as learning and reflecting is concerned. As well, what I feel is as though when people talk about models, they use them as a mean when figuring out the chances of success, alongside they are setting benchmarks for themselves. By this its quite evident education certainly is on a turning point, and as you state its only content but also providing skills needed to be equipped with, for success in future. Leadership certainly does play an important role no matter which road a person chooses to go on. Once again thankyou so much…
I find it really interesting you say ‘they are setting benchmarks for themselves’ – I wonder how students can start to negotiate these benchmarks … as quite clearly not all of them will understand a) the model b) the nature of social media and how it connects people and c) the technology – I wonder just how they ‘know’ that the benchmarks are ‘correct’ or are they just guessing.
How do students know that what they are doing in one way of learning or another is ‘better’. I don’t mean more interesting (less boring), but better. Is it the learning or the passion of the teacher. If you get a great teacher who ‘gets it’ – does that mean a better experience … maybe you’d consider writing a guest post on this idea Tanuj?
yup sure I will be writing a post based upon the idea, just when I able to balance my time
balance your time – eeek you sound like a teacher!
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lol heheh… Now I have written a blog: Learning Vs. Passion
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