Thursday, October 29, 2009

Essays: Constructivist Leadership - Second Musing

The theory of constructivist leadership is based on the concept that adults can work together to create meaning and knowledge. Lambert (1995) examines this concept through this definition:

“The reciprocal processes that enable……

participants in an educational community to construct meanings…..

that lead towards a common purpose of schooling.”

Reciprocity occurs when people proactively and actively interact with each other to share ideas, thoughts and knowledge. This process can only occur in a trusting and safe environment where each individual is encouraged to truthfully participate in a manner that this individual is listened to with respect. This kind of mutual engagement from the participants generates an energy flow that leads to creating meanings about their common purpose.

In this process of “give and take” participants break their traditional mental models (Senge, 1990) and focus on the multiplicity of viewpoints and different dimensions that would create new ways of thinking and performing in the classrooms. The next step in this process is to structure a series of actions that would exemplify new behaviours with focused objectives. The participants are encouraged to be empathic and be totally aware of self and be totally aware of others; one’s and others’ contributions are to be seriously considered and shaped into meanings relevant to the whole educational community. Lambert (1995) articulates that each person within the educational community is a leader and hence can engage in co-leadership practices at all levels within the educational community; she critiques the hierarchy evident within educational systems and believes that this kind of hierarchy stifles the reciprocity processes.

A determined effort has to be evident to enable the reciprocal processes to occur within the educational community. Different and frequent venues ought to be available for the success of such processes; educators need to be energized frequently and with purpose so that they are not allowed to be “lost” in the day-to-day delivery of curriculum without being able to impact the learners in a fruitful and valuable manner that would fulfill the “common purpose of schooling.”

In the past the role of the educators was to “pass on” or “impart” knowledge to their learners; this has evolved into developing an interactive relationship of sharing/exchanging experiences, resources and knowledge. This relationship advances into acquiring a variety of skill sets including critical thinking. With the advent of technology in this 21st century the learners are active and equal partners in the advancement of their personal and intellectual growth. The purpose of schooling has evolved into ensuring that the learners have the attitude to be creative in their thinking skills to enable them to become engaged and participatory democratic citizens.

Sources: The Constructivist Leader by Linda Lambert, D. Walker, D.P. Zimmerman, J.E. Cooper, M.D. Lambert, M.E. Cardner, P.J. Ford Slack.

The Fifth Discipline by Peter M. Senge.

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