Home' Teacher : March 2011 Contents THE REFLECTIVE PRINCIPLE 67
I bet few of us predicted the various flood
and fire disasters that have beset many of us
in the last few months, let alone prepared
for them, despite the fact that we all know
such events are always possibilities.
The fact is, most of us assume that
tomorrow will pretty much be like today.
The result? We're unprepared when a radi-
cally different future presents itself, despite
the fact that it's in our best interests to con-
sider a wide range of possible futures and
prepare for them. The truth of the matter is
that the way forward is rarely linear, some
extension of what we're now doing.
Turning our attention to schools, we
school leaders cannot rely on others to ask
the questions that will identify the possi-
ble ways forward, nor can we expect the
answers to be delivered from on high,
engraved as it were on stone tablets to stand
forever into the future. David Hargreaves
encourages school leaders to think that no
one person will get it right and that every-
one has a responsibility to play their creative
part in looking for answers. For Hargreaves,
in Education Epidemic, the way forward is
'constructed at an incredible pace by a com-
munity resembling a babbling bazaar (with)
different agendas and approaches.'
Preparing for our possible futu res is not
simply about looking around for someone
else's best practice. That practice may be
good for today, but tomorrow will bring
new challenges that require new answers.
All of us need to be looking for new prac-
Planning in a changing environment
calls for consideration of alternative strate-
gies for securing success, several of which
may involve major change to the prevail-
ing approach to schooling. This may be in
cu rriculum, pedagogy or school structures.
So school leaders need to develop their per-
sonal capacities, including creativity, imagi-
nation, agility and courage.
School leaders need to understand pat-
terns and trends in society in order to be
able to better plan for their students' future.
The success of the Open University and
other online institutions is challenging the
post- compulsory education sector. How
long before this happens in schools? We
should not underestimate the power of the
online environment for both knowledge and
Parents, and students themselves, want
schooling to be a personalised pathway, yet
the reality in many schools is that the indi-
vidual student still has to fit into a class.
The challenge today is to deliver individual
pathways in learning for every student.
Given that school students learn from a
wide variety of sources, formal education
being only one of them, school leaders need
to be thinking about how to contribute to,
and gain from, the learning experiences stu-
dents have at home, in the community and
during leisure time. Increasingly success is
the result of what educational researchers
now call complementary learning.
Schools need to pay more attention to
the social development of students by using
teams, networks, clusters, partnerships
and collaborative forms of learning in the
school. The Battle of Waterloo may have
been won by leaders who developed their
skills in co -curricular ways on the playing
fields of Eton, but today's and tomorrow's
problems can be solved by leaders who
develop their skills in curricular ways in
We also need to be considering new
forms of assessment. We like competitive,
norm-referenced testing -- how else do we
know who is best or who ought to go to
university? -- but criterion-referenced assess-
ment may be more appropriate, especially
to assess skills and knowledge that must be
know n. Then there's ipsative assessment,
which is the practice of assessing present
performance against the prior performance
of the person being assessed. Ipsative assess-
ment -- aka personal bests -- fits beautifully
with the idea of personalised learning.
Preparing for uncertain futures, whether
in society or in schools, needs to be a priority
for all school leaders. Professional develop-
ment that assists in developing personal and
collaborative skills, and provides assistance
with futures thinking and planning is criti-
cal. Look out for masterclasses, undertake
more reading, but above all, begin thinking
about your next practice that will lead to
better-prepared students. T
David Loader is an educ ation consultant
and a ssociate professor in the Faculty of
Education at the Unive rsity of Melbourne.
His latest book, with Brian Caldwell,
is Our School Our Future, published by
the Australian Institute for Teaching and
School Leadership. Email davidloade r@
David Loader and Brian Caldwell invite
you to their two -day 'Masters of strat-
egy in education' m asterclass for school
leaders in Melbourne on 31 March and
1 April. For details, visit ww w.educ ation al
Hargreaves, D (2003) Education
Epidemic: Tran sforming secondary
schools through innovation n etworks.
Plan for the future
IT'S IN OUR BEST INTERESTS AS SCHOOL LEADERS TO CONSIDER A WIDE RANGE OF POSSIBLE FUTURES
AND PREPARE FOR THEM, SAYS DAVID LOADER.
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