Recently I was asked to summarise, in 1 page (argh) my Education and Leadership Philosophy. Well here goes.
Learning is a lifelong process of both passive and active engagement with the empirical and ontological world. It is a transformative process leading to a permanent capacity change, a process which, if actively engaged with and directed towards premeditated goals, can be called an Education. From the cradle to the grave we learn with, from and because of others and the more we come to take control of these interactions the more effectively we come to learn about ourselves, others and the world in all its forms and strata.
Drawing on social-constructivist-constructionist paradigms it is my fundamental belief that learning is a social process involving mediated activity (collaboration), facilitated through talk, enacted publicly between people and cognitively within people. As such an Education, lifelong, and a system of engineered education or ‘schooling’ should recognise the social nature of learning, engineering and facilitating educative experiences which result in learning. The engineering and facilitation of learning as part of an education takes the form of a variety of pedagogies, all of which are shaped by an individuals or systems belief about the nature and process of learning and the purpose of learning as part of an education.
I believe that pedagogies should respond to the social nature of learning and to reflect tenets of metacognition, authenticity, dialogue, collaboration, content, context and emotion and not just promote passive knowledge and skills dissemination and consumption. Where debate exists is in the purpose of an education. An education seeks to primarily induct an individual into the empirical and ontological reality of a given community and culture. Thus an education provides a curriculum which imbues an individual with domain and non domain specific knowledge, embed that knowledge as understanding and foster the development of culturally prized skills. In the prevalent system this is important as mastering these grants access to later levels of education and is the currency of socio-economic mobility. Along the way a learner develops social skills, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and in some cases aptitudes. But if we consider the work of Freire, Bernstein, Marx and to an extent Critical Realist philosophy, an education is more than a process of, at best, enculturation and, at worst, indoctrination. It is an opportunity to liberate learners, furnishing them with the knowledge, understanding and skills, attributes and aptitudes to master their own learning lifelong and lifewide. It is this belief that I adhere to and allow to shape my practices as teacher, curriculum designer and school leader or what one might recognise collectively as a facilitator of learning.
My philosophy of Education is one which believes that it is the duty of an education to enable learners to know enough about themselves, others and the world to find out more and to build a network of understanding. To enable learners to develop and practice a range of skills which they can hone, develop further and synthesise with others throughout their lives. To question, to be self motivated, self regulated and to be aware of how they, others and the world works. To expect this to emerge from within without guidance is flawed, to enable this to be developed through a curriculum and from within a supportive, loosely directed, safe, social context recognises the process of effective learning. If an education is focused upon these goals then gender, race, background, socio-economic status should not hold an individual back. In fact if an education provides the means to develop a lifelong lifewide learning capacity in a socialised learning context where thought has been applied to how group interactions can be managed then differences such as gender and race can became facilitators of learning rather than potential shackles on liberation.
An application of this understanding of the process of learning also shapes my approach to leadership. To lead effectively on open interaction recognising content, context and emotion has to be enacted. To lead effectively is to cascade leadership so it becomes a social interaction of mutually supporting relationships where power is decentralised and accountability is clearly mapped; collaborative leadership. To achieve this leadership needs to be learnt and I believe this is effectively achieved through an eduction, best modelled by the leader with greater skill, enabling all to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, attributes and aptitudes to fully participate in a collaborative process of leadership. In some sense a leadership pedagogy should be administered, shaped by a recognition of the learning process and the premeditated goal of developing leaders and in this case leaders of learning and leaders of an education.