What was the motivating factor in moving from the study of Economics into Education?
I was trained as a primary teacher with a two-year qualification, but was offered study leave to complete an economics degree early in my career. I was about to change careers when I was I was offered further study leave to complete an education degree and start a masters’ degree. The qualifications provided an opportunity to move into tertiary education.
What do you believe is the key challenge for leaders in education today?
Building and maintaining relationships remains the challenge, especially in times of uncertainty. Leaders are required to relate to a wide range of audiences who have different needs and expectations. Often these needs are in conflict so the challenge is to recognise people and their needs, affirm them and manage the relationships.
If you were starting a school in 2022, what would be the three key aspects of a future focused education that you would want to see in this school?
- Provide a curriculum and resources to ensure that students can be adaptable and agile learners so they can lead and respond to a changing environment and workplace.
- Support students to be tolerant, respectful and culturally sensitive with the increased diversity in workplace and society.
- Provide an environment and build a school culture that supports young people to be creative and innovative.
Who is your “go to” thought leader in education?
Howard Gardner (Harvard Graduate School of Education). While best known for his theory on learning styles and multiple intelligences, his contribution goes beyond these theories to include new insights for researchers and educators in general and higher education (see his web page).
Which book are you currently reading?
General reading: Tin Man by Sarah Winman The book is about relationship between two boys and a girl who are caught up in a love triangle. The story is told from the perspectives of each of the boys and explores their sexual identity.
Professional reading: Brand esSense by Neil Gains. The book explores the future of brands by predicting that they will appeal to all our five senses to make an impact. The author links symbolism and storytelling to sensory experience in brand marketing.
If you could invite any global leader to your dinner table, who would you invite and why?
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. She is shown to be a respected and proven leader in challenging circumstances. Her character is exemplary. She appears as non-pretentious, authentic, incorruptible, and a decent human being with strong values. She is highly skilled in dealing with a range of people. She is a consultative decision maker, and has demonstrated capabilities such as social competence, empathetic listening, methodical, and being a practical problem solver.
What piece of wisdom would you share with the ACEL members who are seeking to make a difference in schools today?
Re-balance your leadership and management roles in favour of leadership – inspiration, motivation and alignment. Explore the boundaries of what the school offers in terms of curricula and extra curricula activities. This means focusing more on the augmented and potential aspects of what the school is offering rather than just the core and expected aspects. This requires leaders to push the boundaries of their role and move out of their comfort zones (Drysdale, L., Gurr, D., & Goode, H. (2016) Dare to Make a Difference: Successful Principals Who Explore the Potential of their Role, International Studies in Education Administration, 44(3), 37-54).