LEADING LIGHTS     Issue 3 | 2020

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Learning from Lockdown

Article by   Dr. Murray Fletcher


Lockdown has revealed learners who in themselves are highly capable in negotiating their own learning and also those who are in need of learning support and guidance.

Tēnā tātou katoa

Kia ū ki te pai
Cleave to that which is good!

For me as a leadership coach, the conversations continued during lockdown, albeit, like with others, in an online environment. As with face to face connections the professional relationship that is nurtured is central and key to a coaching relationship.

Without exception the leaders I connect with enjoyed lockdown. Life had times of being fast-paced, especially when ensuring the online learning environment for learners was in place, having staff meetings in an online space, and keeping in touch with individuals and teams online. It was rather intense and exhausting, without a break in sight, yet, I heard, it was enjoyable!

For these leaders the development focus in the recent past has been on learner agency, collaborative teaching, digital learning, and also on well-being, socio-emotional capabiities, hauora (te taha tinana/ physical well-being, te taha wairua/ spiritual well-being, te taha whānau/ social well-being, te taha hinengaro/ mental and emotional well-being). This was the focus well before the world became even more complicated and before lockdown.

So for learners (read tamariki, kaiako, kaiawhina, whānau) in these settings, the capabilities and dispositions which enable both interaction and fulfilment in the modern world had already become what mattered.

Lockdown has revealed learners who in themselves are highly capable in negotiating their own learning and also those who are in need of learning support and guidance. What is interesting, in some circumstances, was who was able to thrive and flourish in this online environment, and that applied to both young and older participants.

So what can be approached differently as we experience this changed world?

A rethinking and a re-languaging has been taking place, not as a response to lockdown but as a natural progression in the way we approach what some jurisdictions, schools and leaders are about in education. Take the term ‘heutagogy’ meaning self-determined learning (Hase & Kenyon, 2007), that has come about through the self-efficacy ocurring as learners engage in a digital environment. Take the term ‘leregogy’ (coined by Rehorick & Taylor, 1995) to replace the widely used term for adult learning, ‘andragogy’. The term leregogy (from the root lere to learn) gives a sense of both teaching and learning, levels the relationship between teacher and learner and removes the sex bias implicit on the male root andra.

The questions continue.

  • What might be left behind in this different world ? What no longer adds value to what is undertaken as learning?
  • Where does the focus need to be and where does energy need to be placed so as to create an environment where learners and learning flourish?
  • How do we nurture learners to deal with complexity and to honour worldviews that might differ from our own?
  • How do we continue to grow learners in personal responsibility taking?

So back to those personal capabilities and dispositions in all their wholeness that were in the process of being nurtured prior to lockdown. These apply to all learners, young and older, child and adult. As we continue to explore what it means to engage in ako as a sense of  reciprocity and mutuality; to ensure manaakitanga, awhinatanga and whānaungatanga are an integral aspect of the learning culture, we also focus on what’s inside, what pono truly means for each person. This is ngākau pono, having a sincerity and sense of integrity in all one does. It is all about mahitika, having a human decency.

“Sustainability is an inside job, a learning journey to live lightly, joyfully, peacefully, meaningfully” (Kathia Lazlo).

This is the re-awakening of kindness, of caring, consideration and compassion and a returning to what really matters in terms of the holistic learner, the capabilities and qualities each learner has as they interact with their world.

It is also about rethinking leadership so as to ensure a human focus is ever-present. So what was taken away that created a release for leaders? What was it they did not have to engage in?

So what shifts might be taking place within ourselves from this ‘lockdown’ experience that need to be nurtured and sustained?

An opportunity exists to explore and act in different ways, for the sake of well-being and learning.


Alsop, P. & Kupenga,T. (2016). Mauri Ora -Wisdom from the Māori World. Nelson. Potton and Burton.

Hase, S. & Kenyon, C. (2007). Heutagogy: A Child of Complexity Theory.Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education. 4(1), 111-118.

Laszlo, K. (2012). From systems thinking to systems being: The embodiment of evolutionary leadership.  Journal of Organsiational Transformation & Social Change. 9(2), 95-108.

Rehorick, D.A. & Taylor, G. (1995). Thoughtful incoherence: First encounters with the phenomenological- hermeneutical domain. Human Studies.18, 389-414.