LEADING LIGHTS     Issue 1 | 2023



by   Dr. Murray Fletcher

“An urgent political imperative for our collective future”
“Co-creating space of renewal, reciprocity and reverance”

Kia ū ki te pai, kia whai hua ai
Hold on to what is good and good things will follow.
Leadership matters! Leaders as human beings matter!
If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together (African proverb)

We lead in challenging times, a time of great change, and one that is being experienced globally.

As I connect with leaders in schools and centres in our country I notice ( see, hear and sense) leaders dealing with these challenges, usually with positive outcomes but underneath with a great deal of reflection on the personal costs to the people they engage with (students, staff, whānau), and to themselves personally. Everyday these leaders make a difference and have impact on learners, their teachers and their whānau! We don’t often get to hear about these stories as a different agenda is promoted.

NZEALS, as an organisation exists to both support and grow leaders across all sectors in all roles within education. You will find the profiles of the NZEALS Council, a watch this space for activity in a new region and a reminder about JELPP, our NZEALS journal.

Our ‘taster’ Forum this year focused on ‘Leading in times of turmoil’ and continues the theme ‘knowing and Being your self, as you lead’ (See the Co-president report and in the reflections on the Forum topic, later in this issue).

It is also election year in Aotearoa New Zealand ! A time when promises are made to attract the voter.

Education is not usually the sought after portfolio as the outcomes intended in education are longer term, and not the feature of ‘quick-fix’ solutions that show immediate action. That is why it is really important that we hold onto what most educators truly believe.It is a time to stand up, and stand for, what we believe in and hope for future generations.

If I once liked to think politics should be kept out of education’, I now realise that is impossible and actually education and politics are intertwined.

In this issue I review the article ‘A New Politics for Transforming Education, Towards an Effective Way Forward’, from the Centre for Strategic Education in Australia. The ‘issues’ we are focusing in education are world-wide and involve shared conversations rather than knee-jerk reactions by politicians to glean support.

Now is the time to increase the connected conversations; to bring together the dialogue about the exemplary practices being experienced by learners in school and centres with the dedication, care and expertise of practitioners and the ‘re-search’ into what matters with learning, in school/centres and in education.

We know that when leadership teams come together and take concerted action, that the outcomes can be profound. We also know that when leaders of different schools and centres come together, then the outcomes can be dramatic, positive and have a real impact on learners and learning.

Collaboration is central to co-creating and taking ideas into practice in the everyday for learners. (See Lysandra Stuart’s article on the power of coming together as schools in Kāhui ako).

I review a chapter (Wayfinding: Navigating complexity for sustainable school leadership) from the book Future Alternatives for Educational leadership - Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Democracy (2022) edited by Deborah M. Netolicky. The connection is made to Wayfinding Leadership: Groundbreaking Wisdom for Developing Leaders (2015) by Spiller, Barclay-Kerr and Panoho, who place the indigenous perspective into the thinking space.

What needs to be remembered as we approach an election?

“ Humanity has reached a bridge that can only be crossed in unity” (Human Reform Politics)

“ Education is not an algorithm but a human endeavour” Netolicky (2019)

“ Education is a humanitarian effort- learning and wellbeing are integrated”. Netolicky (2021)

“ Human needs come before outcomes”

It is about balancing (Netolicky,2020)

  • strategy and operations,
  • leading fast and slow,
  • accountability and autonomy,
  • equity and excellence,
  • independence and interdependence,
  • the individual and the collective,
  • wellbeing and workload

It is important we continue to build and co-create space of renewal, reciprocity and reverence.

I have been reading the UNESCO Summit 2022 summary focused on the global direction that education for the future needs to take.

The summit outcomes stressed the need for an urgent political imperative for our collective future.

It is noted in the report (Report on the 2022 Transforming Education Summit.pdf (sdg4education2030.org)) of the summit that the crisis in education across the globe goes much deeper than the challenge to bring about equity (that is key in our country and I could add the focus on just literacy and numeracy); it is more about education systems no longer being fit for purpose.

It is about:

  • Rethinking purpose and content of education.
  • Transforming systems to meet higher purposes- i.e. inclusive learning environment, enabling teachers to transform themselves and become agents of change; harnessing the digital revolution including A.I. to benefit public education.
  • Investing more, more equitably in education.

I also found the report: Reconceptualising and Repositioning curriculum in the 21st Century. A Global Paradigm Shift. ( International Bureau of Education) by Mmantsetsa Marope (2017) - reconceptualizing_and_repositioningexecsummary.pdf (unesco.org) - revealing.

In a new paradigm (the century we are firmly in), curriculum is seen “as a more dynamic, complex and multi-dimensional concept than its current conceptualizations portray”.

If we are to see this educational transformation it requires the collective commitment and action of visionary political leaders – students, parents, teachers and the public at large.

If we are to shape our global future and the direction of education in wise ways, we need to have moral purpose and collective and responsible action that implements strategies. It is about a commitment of social justice and human service.

It is about grounded life experiences and theoretical knowledge gleaned from re-searching these life experiences and educational practices.

You will also find in this issue:

  • An article by Dr. Christine Harris on being angry and entitled.
  • An article by Jeannette Munday on self-compassion for leaders.
  • An article by Dr. Christopher Branson and Dr. Maureen Marra on courage in leadership.
  • I also give my perspective on what really matters in leading.

Nāku iti noa, nā
Dr. Murray Fletcher