On Leadership and Learning

Some inspirational learning from one of the great masters of educational research, Professor Michael Fullan.

In February I attended a seminar hosted by the Australian Council of Educational Leadership where we had the privilege to learn from one of the great masters of education. Professor Michael Fullan is a prolific Canadian researcher and writer. His work has informed and influenced so much of all that we have achieved here at Claremont over the past ten years. I have been reading his most recent book ‘Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail’ and I cannot recommend it enough! Professor Fullan has also developed ‘The Deep Learning Framework’ which comes from his book ‘Dive into Deep Learning: Tools for Engagement’. I love that his work is evidence based, and his philosophy of learning and vision for where education should be heading into the future are both compelling.

Two stand-out quotes which really resonated with me are as follows.

About the role of the future school leader…
The ‘nuanced’ leader will be curious, open, loyal, see below the surface, change people’s emotions not minds, foster ‘sinews’ of success, be humble, be determined for all to succeed, is proud of the successes of others."

He or she will “courageously and relentlessly be committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity”.

For students and learners, one of the competencies for deep learning will be “a commitment to human equity and wellbeing through empathy and compassion for diverse values and world views.” This empathy and compassion will be demonstrated alongside “integrity in action”.

So here’s the challenge for you, for me, for us all. Are we striving to create school communities where these values are at the heart of our schools, our organisations, and all we say and do? Do we demonstrate and model these things for our students, staff and wider community? Do I really value these things, or do I pay lip service, giving eloquent speeches yet echoing empty words and platitudes? What fruit is really displayed in the example of my leadership?

Our school communities are certainly complex places with such a myriad of perspectives and relationships. Am I willing to learn from those whose opinions, beliefs and values are different to mine? Or am I fearful, intolerant, closed and defensive? Do I take the time to really listen to the story of others in my community, those who I walk alongside and do this life journey with? Am I willing to embrace them and be open to connecting with all that we share and find common ground with? What if they are right and I am wrong? Am I building bridges or walls?

If I really am driven with the purpose to prepare my students with the skills, mindsets and dispositions that will be necessary for them to have, to be successful in the world they are growing up into, a lot must change. Change is happening way too quickly, so let’s make sure that the right things change.

Our children are growing up into a very uncertain world which most would agree is incredibly scary. This is their planet. Am I giving them the skills and constructs necessary to solve the problems that they must solve in the years to come? Will they have the ability to collaborate and work respectfully alongside others? Will they be kind, helpful, compassionate, forgiving, generous human beings?
This is learning for us all. I often wonder… when I am in a nursing home, will our students of today want to look after me? As a parent, teacher, educator and leader I must leave this legacy for them, or surely, I have failed.

Thanks Professor Fullan, you have really stirred my soul!

“People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit.” Luke 6:45