I had the privilege of hearing Scott McLeod speak at our CORE Breakfast yesterday morning here in Christchurch.
Scott provided a provocative and informative session, sharing his perspectives on how educators worldwide are struggling to adapt to the digital, global era in which we live. As co-creator of the wildly popular video series, “Did You Know? (Shift Happens)”, Scott used many of the concepts in that video in his presentation – making effective use of data from the NZ context to provide a compelling picture of how the ideas are impacting us here.
Through the session he provided many opportunities for feedback and reflection – and while the engagement was high, there were the predictable concerns about the many ‘barriers’ in our system, including the impact of government policy, limited funding, lack of access to resources etc.
At the end of his address Scott summed up with a simple challenge (my recollection of the essence of what he said below):
Leaders lead! They don’t follow. They aren’t simply reactive (to government policy, constraints of policy, funding etc). They lead. They are compelled by a vision of what can be, and work with the resources available to them to achieve that.
The statement brought the session to an ‘energised’, yet sobering end. The challenge is that it’s not enough to be be ‘titilated’ by hearing these sorts of messages (i.e. ‘Shift Happens’). If we believe these are the challenges we (and our students) are facing for the future, we must act. And this requires leadership.
Sadly, in many instances today leadership is lacking – at all levels of our education system. There is a pre-occupation with doing things right (management) instead of doing the right things (leadership). Our bureaucracy operates under the mantra of ‘risk avoidance‘, and compliance requirements dominate the processes of getting things done.
We do have some great leaders in our schools and in our system – but the system can often strangle their efforts to lead. It takes courage, the ability to think outside the box, to take risks and be prepared for failure. Sadly these are all qualities that aren’t rewarded in our current system – so it takes even more resolve to exercise these qualities. I agree whole-heartedly with Scott. Leaders lead!
Scott McLeod is an Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University and Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the only academic center in the United States dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a He blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at dangerouslyirrelevant.org and occasionally at The Huffington Post.
Scott is in New Zealand at the moment as a visiting fellow at the University of Canterbury. Next week he’ll be a keynote speaker at the Learning@School conference in Rotorua which provide an opportunity for over 1100 NZ educators to hear his thoughts on education in the third millennium.