If Australia genuinely wants to continually enhance the nature and standard of its schooling and move to the fore internationally it is imperative it advocate the appointment at schools small and large of principals who can successfully lead ever-evolving digital schools operating increasingly in the networked mode.
Mal Lee posted The Principal and the Digital School at his blog today. I read it – via Reeder - on the train home from working with my English Method students at the University of Wollongong but suspect that Mal’s target audience, ‘the dead hands’, will miss it completely. It would be difficult to argue with the quote, extracted from his post, above.
I would argue that Mal’s focus should fall on some other key players in education, not just principals, who are ‘operating in an Industrial Age mindset’. Yes, he does mention ‘bureaucratic micro management’ while speaking fondly of ‘mavericks – rebelling against the system to do what is best’ but there is a complete lack of acknowledgment that school principals (in NSW) are being judged by how well their students play the game that is the pen and paper based regurgitation in HSC exams and very public data generated by NAPLAN testing. If the system establishes certain rules of engagement it is hardly surprising that ‘industrial mindsets’ continue. I do wish more principals would speak out like a retiring Regional Director several years ago who said the biggest educational problem in this state was the HSC.
Unfortunately Mr Lee currently has commenting disabled which is one of the reasons I have written this post. I emailed Mal about this previously but unfortunately he has not enabled the conversation at his blog (which I hope he fixes soon as it is symbolically and practically not good). I do hope his post is read widely though, it makes some important and provocative points. *UPDATE: Mal has now enabled comments.
In a period of constant political and media babble about educational reform very little is effectively happening in systems to truly address the gargantuan social changes our societies have experienced. The reality is that 16 year olds commence their senior studies in Year 11 doing what their parents and grandparents did, preparing to write fast in exams. The truth is that technology may be used to assist students prepare for these tests or even, if they’re lucky, be used for school-based assessment tasks but is not needed at all (except to get your results by SMS at the end of the process). The Australian Curriculum will make no difference to this HSC system that rules education in our state.
To continue on our this educational trajectory of faux reform is quite clearly dangerous for our society in an era of global competition. I’ll say it again, students, regardless of how educrats re-organise systems, will still be completing pen and paper exams a the end of this year with no plan to update our education systems with any sense of reality about the world we all live in. Where is the genuine reform, educational and political leadership?
Regular readers of this blog will have read many posts on similar themes, the need for savvy educators and educrats – who can lead change in the classroom, school and system(s) – over the last six years. ‘The Clay Layer’ from 2009 is one of my personal favourites. My point at that time was that:
Systems seem to have some inbuilt, organic way of slowing change - preserving the status quo – and even when the paradigm shift is acknowledged, key players seem unable to generate the enthusiasm or traction to make it happen.
and in the era of faux reform, the same still applies. All is not lost though. Marshall McLuhan, the most quotable of thinkers, gives us some cause for hope.
Featured Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by shawnzrossi: http://flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/1677870719/