MyNotes - Leading for Learning (Chapter 5)



  1. What is needed are schools that are organized to liberate minds and inspire performance rather than organizations that are designed to ensure compliance with little attention to meaning and value.
  2. A learning community is a group of people who personally interact, face to face or electronically, and are bound together by the pursuit of common questions, problems, or issues.
    1. likely to be relatively small
    2. can exist in formal organizations based on bureaucratic principles but their existence is always insecure and usually of the reasons that the learning community movement is threatened is that many people are trying to install learning communities in schools while leaving essential bureaucratic structures intact. These communities cannot thrive without systems to support them that are far different from those that exist in most schools today.
    3. are empowered to act on what they learn.
  3. Communities of learners are collections of individuals joined together for the purpose of sharing what they have learned or sharing a common learning experiences. These work together only coincidentally on problems, issues, or questions, though they may have strong social bond, share a common identity, and benefit from the work of other members.
  4. Learning organizations are formal social organizations that purposefully create, support, and use learning communities and communities of learners as the primary means of inducting new members; creating, developing, importing and exporting knowledge; assigning tasks and evaluating performances; and establishing goals and maintain direction.
  5. Learning organizations create and maintain networks of learning communities and use these networks as the primary means by which the work of the organization is accomplish.
  6. What learning organizations look like....
    1. Leaders view core business of schools as designing engaging work that calls on students to complete intellectually demanding tasks and then leading students in the successful completion of these tasks so that they learn the intended things.
    2. Leader regularly, persistently communicate the view they hold to others.
    3. Students would be viewed by teachers and others in the school as knowledge workers, volunteers, customers for engaging work.
    4. Teacher see themselves, and are perceived by others, as leaders, designers, and guides to instruction.
    5. Parents are partners
    6. Principal is seen as leader of leaders
    7. Superintendent is both a moral and intellectual leader.
    8. Central office staff see themselves as capacity builders and what are often referred to as servant leaders
  7. " educated person will be somebody who has learned how to learn, and who continues learning, especially by formal education, throughout his or her lifetime" (Peter Drucker, 1995)
  8. What some business leaders see today as twenty-first century skills, many educators have long held to be things every citizen needed to know if democracy is to survive.
  9. Today many business leaders as well as educators agree that the ability to work on and with knowledge is essential to making a living as well as to living well and to functioning effectively....
  10. Peter Drucker: "In the knowledge society the employees--that is, knowledge workers--own the tools of production." [Miguel: And this is possible because those tools of production are now available for free, whether as free open source or available at no cost through web-based services].
  11. Real knowledge work requires the worker to solve problems, create, think, reason and critically evaluate.
  12. Learning is an active process and profound learning requires engaging tasks as well as engaged minds.
  13. Students learn by doing tasks that call on them to use their minds.
  14. Moral involvement and intellectual engagement are at the heart of the relationship of teachers, students, and schools. Key to such relationships are the ideas of volunteerism and moral commitment as contrasted with constraint, compulsion, punishment and denial of rewards.
  15. Continuous learning is required not simply to earn a living but also to live a full life and to avoid being overwhelmed by the future.
  16. Schools must become the place where all students learn how to learn and learn how to work on and with knowledge.
  17. In bureaucracies, it is assumed that good followers are docile and compliant. In learning organizations, it is assumed that leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin.
  18. Community building among parents is seldom at the forefront of thinking about the relationship between schools and parents.
  19. The job of a principal is to seek and help others seek ways to more effectively create engaging work for students and ensure that staff members are engaged in their work as well.
  20. One of the fundamental problems schools have is that they lack the capacity to provide continuing support for the systemic changes that must be sustained if schools are to be transformed into vital units in a learning organization...building those capacities--to focus on the future, maintain direction, act strategically--should become the primary focus of the central office staff in a learning organization.
  21. Central office should be subordinate to the staff of schools rather than superordinate. . .servant leaders.
  22. Servant leaders see their role as enabling and supporting others rather than controlling others or managing their works. They gain influence by giving away power.
  23. If schools are to be transformed from bureaucracies into learning organizations, there are 3 critical initial moves that leaders must make:
  24. First, they must become convinced that the superordinate goal of schooling is to provide students with engaging tasks that result in their learning those things of most value to themselves, their parents and the larger society.
  25. Second, leaders must shape the direction of all activity in the schools and the school district.
  26. Third, leaders must give, and encourage others to give, a great deal of attention to defining the position and role of students.
  27. Teachers cannot be leaders until they understand that students are no longer obligated to follow them. Principals cannot be leaders of leaders until they acknowledge and support the fact that teachers are leaders and therefore are empowered to lead.
This was a fascinating chapter to read. I suppose the one point I agree with most is the one that says, "Servant leaders gain influence by giving away power." Having worked in several bureaucracies (school systems, etc), this is one of the tougher points to understand for "top-down" bosses. The expectation is for being docile and compliant, people in essence putting their "light under a bushel basket."


One of the key points I disagree with is that schools are THE place where knowledge work can be done or inculcated in students as part of the culture. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed as students are able to easily bypass schools. While the school remains as an institution, as soon as children are connected to the Internet, it all changes rather quickly.



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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