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Challenging Imperatives of school leadership

‘What are the challenging  imperatives of school leadership and what does international literature offer to the task of developing 21st century school leaders in Australian Schools?’

Theme: Organisational Culture and Disruptive Technology.
The line of discussion: Leadership and Disruption - School preparing students to be work ready to a changed work future:
The scope of discussion: 10 years - 2015 to 2025
The complexity of the discussion: Disruptive technology and school's culture / Automated Efficiency to Augmentation to Human Machine
Leadership: Experimental, Transformational and Contrarian  Leadership and Technology Exponential Change


“In the agricultural era, schools mirrored a garden. In the industrial era, classes mirrored the factory, with an assembly line of learners. In the digital-information era, how will learning look?”
Lucy Dinwiddie
Global Learning & Executive
Development Leader, General Electric
 (Center for Creative Leadership 2014)

This is not an essay focused on the types, styles, classifications and or characteristics of school leadership.  This essay is focussed on predictive paradigms of exponential technologically driven social change, the symbiotic changes required within schools and the leadership capacity to enable transformation of teaching and learning practice. In simpler words, the changing and challenging imperatives of schools require school leadership which can deal with exponential change in technology and society. The influence of exponential technological change is the essence of this essay’s focus on school leadership challenges. Whilst specific predictive needs of schools are ill-defined, schools require leaders who can make societal/system level sense and prognostic understandings to afford strategic decision making and effective organisational change. The critical factor of structural and behavioural change within this digital-information era is leadership.  The pursuit of successful school reform and behavioural learning practices is dependent ‘... on the motivations and capacities of local leadership’ (Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom 2004, p2). Schools need leaders who can lead change. The paradigm shift Lucy Dinwiddie refers to within her question - what will learning  look like within the digital-information era? - is the capacity of schools to move from industrial structures and controlled production like behaviours to a new era of learning. This essay draws attention to possible outcomes of digital-information era schooling, and the dependency of successful transformation generated through effective school leadership. Leaders need to have the capacity to make understandings and have the strategic nous to successfully achieve future orientated missions.
The specific leadership challenges of this era is the development of human potential. 21st century society needs schools to invest in the development of human capital. This includes the removal of school perpetuated gender, racial and disability  inequalities, enhanced cultural-inclusive instruction, and closing skill attainment gaps. Australia’s future is reliant on participating within the rapid changing manifestations of a globalised socio-economic world. All of our students require the personal skills to grow within this era, and it is this era educational leaders must address. I believe leadership is now the essential factor the Department of Education must address, if schools are to provide an adequate 21st century learning service. As the driver of socio-economic change, exponential change in technology is an essential element school leaders must work with. To successful address exponential change, hierarchical positions must shift from efficiency based management practices to human potential based endeavours.
The urgency to develop relevant forms of 21st century leadership exists, as continued application of  20th century management practices will eventually incapacitate society. Positional leaders must transform schools from the assembly-line-of-learners era to the digital-information era. The future of societal progression is dependent on school leaders being able to directly shift their learning goals towards the era. If societal progression is to occur, schooling must not be maimed by yester-century retro-like industrialised management practices. Within this era industrialised management practices will manufacture diminished potential.  Diminish human potential in schools and society will stride towards a diminished future. ‘If you want to maim the future of any society, you simply maim the children’ (Ngugi wa Thiong’o 1993, p76). Australia’s future prosperity is hardwired to the education sector.  ‘Education is an enabler of productivity and growth for virtually every part of the Australian economy’ (Brown, D’Souza, Ergas, Harding & Harper 2014, p37).
The essential step forward for 21st century school leadership is to enable future prosperity through an intensive focus on developing human potential. The 20th century manager tools, command-control and compliance and efficiency, are no longer suitable, as industrialised management practices are not keeping up with post-industrial society. Global societies require schools that are future based. It is no longer about youth conforming to an industrialised process, it is about the process of enabling human potential across all sexes, cultural identification, disability, geolocation and socio-economic situation to participate within the globalised world. By human potential I mean, the opportunity to participate in and contribute to society, to have the skills to obtain suitable employment and to have the self-esteem, resilience to enjoy happiness and a sense of well-being. This essay focusses on exponential technology change and enabling schools through progressive leadership to enable human potential.  
The overriding theme is that, a contextually relevant 21st century school requires leaders who are future focussed and can operate within exponential technological and social change. Schools require leaders who have the capacity to make sense of exponential change and be able to strategically implement across broad tacit domains such as teaching and learning relationships and organisational behaviours.  Within this context, this essay focuses on the emergence of machine intelligence and schooling capacity to generate 21st century employable youth. These two elements are the backbone of this essay.  They are the imperatives which I charge as the underlying need to redirect schooling from product outputs to human capital, and to re-assess the contextual awareness of school leaders.  Leadership requires a refresh of expectation based on 21st century learning needs.  This essay is based on personal experience, academic and organisational research covering; anticipated social change, predictive schooling context, leveraging of organisational behaviour, and foreseeable technological impacts; within the parameters of 2015 to 2025.

Australian Education Global Context

In general, Australian Educational strategic plans and goals describe learning services where all students have the opportunity to gain vital proficiencies to enter the 21st century globalised world. This is a call for quality, accountability, innovation, autonomy, flexibility, inclusivity and partnerships to ensure education is a key driver of social and economic advancements across Australia.
Education builds on our nation's commitment to provide sustainable and innovative programs and services from early childhood through to senior years. These programs (such as where I reside) are reflective of 21st century technology and the contemporary social environment in which we operate’ (DoE 2013). In context to this essay the Department of Education strategic plan explicitly states: 'We are adaptive, proactive and innovative as we work together in our schools and workplaces to be able to find approaches to meeting challenges in an ever-changing environment' (DoE 2013, p9). The contextual goal and intended message is that schools are to assist students to successfully enter the global economy. ‘Through our commitment to providing higher quality education services, we will assist young people to become confident and capable global citizens’ (Department 2013 p 7) and ‘... utilising modern approaches to service delivery and 21st century teaching resources to support program delivery’ (Department 2013 p 15). It is important that the Department’s vision, mission and values are not shackled by 20th century forms of regulation and compliance. Outcomes such as alignment, systemness, and measured standards in excellence and coherence, when lensed through 20th century industrialised management practices, will strive for compliance and inhibit strategic goal attainment. Implementation of this strategic plan requires hierarchical positions which are filled by future oriented leaders rather than managers who successfully employ industrial like processes.
In context, schooling is included within the service sector of infrastructure. Investments and decisions made within infrastructure are investments and decisions for the future growth, prosperity and capacity. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) predicts that by 2061 Northern Territory’s population will increase by 93%. ‘Darwin's population is projected to increase from 131,900 people at 30 June 2012 to 225,900 people in 2061 (71%)’ (ABS 2013). Based on non-eligible voters (citizens aged -18) the Northern Territory youth population is approximately 41.2% (Profile ID 2011). The 2013-2014 Territorian student population was 33 229 and consumed an annual operating expense of $850.3 million. The Northern Territory has one of the highest total expenditure per student in both primary and secondary schools and out of school education than any other state or territory due to schools based in remote, isolated and very remote communities (Department of Education). 

Given the investment and equivalent predictions of student growth there is a societal expectation that learning standards will improve and graduating students can contribute to the Territory and Nation. As all States and Territories progresses towards 2025 there is a requirement to have exceptional school leaders in place.

Leadership Experience: My Personalised Statement

Whilst this essay overwhelmingly references international literature it is also strongly influenced by my experiences within positional leadership roles.  I believe leadership is a craft that is honed from the root source itself. The strength of a leader is in her/his ability to bring out her/his inner beliefs, creativity and intellect. These elements must be honed by research, leadership development programs,  and strategic implementation opportunity and experience. In context to this essay I played a leading role in the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution and a Virtual School pilot.
The leader must seek to gain. Leadership is not about being conventional. It is not about maintaining equilibrium. The leader must be nourishing, stimulating and beneficial. It is about the real Julia standing up in whatever context leadership is required. My approach is similar to Elizabeth Broderick’s, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, consideration of leadership. It is not about data, it is about heart and mind, and emotional heightening to forged real change. ‘ I needed to listen with both my head and my heart’ and ‘rewriting the rules one story at a time’ (Broderick 2015). It is not in the what it is the how. It is about development within change itself.
Since 2002 I have been active in a number of leadership positions which instigated various forms of change across a number of strategic initiatives in schools and corporate education. Through research, on-the-ground experience and on-the-job application I have developed a sophisticated toolkit of leadership skills in the methods of transforming workplace practice. I operate between plastic skills, cognitive reasoning and an intention to influence. My positional leadership portfolio includes staffing and training responsibilities, eLearning content materials development, work unit human resource, finance and performance management, systems level program/project management, and strategic advisory in copyright, digital literacies and eLearning platforms.
I have successfully demonstrated leadership in systems deployment, advancing change, re-aligning human resource, strategic planning, policy development, innovative program/project implementation, training and professional learning, and the development of professional learning communities. The leadership tactics I strive to employ to activate change are through;

  • building relationships through explicit communications and progressive teamwork,
  • enabling adaptive and responsive behavioural structures,
  • engaging innovative professional learning processes,
  • transforming work practices,
  • enabling synthesis of data and research as the cornerstone reference for improvement,
  • theoretical lense on instigating and leading change,
  • development of transparency and accountability processes,
  • articulating and clarifying expected standards based on agreed vision, mandates and objectives,
  • embedding national standards, departmental values and organisational strategic goals,
  • integrating emerging theories of thought in regards to developing human potential,
  • empowering autonomous teams, and
  • development of inclusivity through effective partnerships.

I believe a leader requires an adaptive skill-set to creatively address sophisticated, complex and complicated problems. I have a heart and mind personal belief disposition to agitate, innovative and challenge and this requires me to continually reflect on my behaviours and action, and to seek mentor advice. The Department has enabled me to attend professional learning programs focused on facilitating, coaching, change management, organisational risk management, and leadership itself. It is important that the organisation / business units’ executive based  positional structures recognise the need to develop their leadership competencies, values, ethics and want to lead and transfer leadership qualities up and down the chain. It requires educational executives to adjust their personal lense of success to enable school leaders to take essential risks to allow disruptive change. My belief in leadership is that positional leaders have a mandate to change how things occur within their organisation and be seen as a leader who will honour this mandate.  Leaders must employ the autonomy they are granted to act. I have a simple leadership mantra. This being pathos, ethnos and logos (Aristotle).
  • Positional leadership require a skill set that is driven from pathos. There must be an emotional urgency. The organisation must make an emotional commitment for any real change to occur. Generating and maintaining the pathos is the essential duty of the leader.
  • Action must be embellished with credibility and professional accountability. The leader must have the skills to synthesise vision to make it believable and achievable. The leader must be trustworthy. All participants of the organisation must share the core values.  Ethos is the relationship bond, which sustains change.
  • It is important that the leader can communicate clearly with explicit purpose. Logos requires understanding. The force of change must be strategically relevant, consistent to universal standards and can be logically understood as an improvement to the organisation. The organisation must be the story of the improvement.

20th Century Technology Integration - Leaders as Managers Legacy

The theme of this essay is digital-information era technology. It compares two waves of technology:
  • Wave one - automated machine technology and management.
  • Wave two - machines with minds technology and leadership.

The essay looks at the failure of positional management to employ transformative, contrarian and experimental forms of leadership to employ automated machine technology to disrupt industrialised teaching and learning practices. It also identifies the forms of leadership required to employ second wave machines with minds technology. Our present situation is that the Australia has a declining student digital literacy standard against national trends, and that urban and remote students standards are polarising. Indigenous and non indigenous standards are significantly different despite whole of systems rollout of standardised technologies.
I would like to contend, that up to now the integration of technology has been approached through standardised management engineering, and this approach is now falling short of the actual need. It was implemented to integrate technology with past well-known well-established teaching practices. It did not instigate and or contribute to the development of a learning organisation. Despite the money spent and the opportunity to instigate adaptive practices school structures remained more or less much the same. Strong management practices were employed to bring about technological integration. A failure was that we as a Department did not look at positional leadership in itself as a process of technology implementation. Alan Reid in his overview of the Australian Digital Education Revolution emphasises the missed opportunity to instigate future focussed leadership activity over optimised management integration. ‘A genuine education revolution will look to the future not the certainties of the past’ (Reid 2009, p23). Soren Kaplan describes failed management when it is bogged down with a 20th century incremental-based improvement mindset, fastened on refinement-based practices and implementing certainty based priorities such as SWOT analysis, financial analysis, impact scenario, business modeling, strategic planning and reverse engineering. Kaplan’s reasoning is that, on the whole, leaders by reverting to control of process methods do not seize the opportunities within uncertainty, ambiguity and the fog which is the future (Kaplan 2014). Clay Christensen, in his description of leadership that is welded on data-driven analysis but employed within the scope to move forward, is actually operating within past parameters. Managers cannot step forward in times of uncertainty by employing past data and methods of implementation. Reversion to past data locks progress to past versions of success and or failure. From my experience, controller managers with skill sets limited to industrial productivity methods were unable to gain transformational opportunities within the rollout of the Digital Education Revolution and will not be equipped to effectively employ second wave 21st century intelligent technologies within a schooling structure.
The 20th century schooling structure was in itself a successful technical transference from a system supporting agriculturally rooted communities to an industrialised economy. Schooling emerged as an important cog within the industrial fit, and as of such, a regulated and a discipline-centered preparatory schooling system was instigated as the most appropriate structure (Wraga 1994). A set curriculum, a disciplined mind and respect for authority became the core elements of an efficiently optimised school. Industrialised schooling emerged from a social efficiency ideology where schools implemented programs based on agreed ‘...  abilities, attitudes, habits, appreciations, and forms of knowledge that men need’ (Bobbitt 1913, p42). This underlying philosophical platform requires redefinition, and new cogs to move it from an industrialised format to a human capital service.
Since the 1920’s authoritative management did successfully integrated many industrial type technologies. These technologies concurred with the social efficiency ideology based on curriculum content, instructional roles and responsibilities, test and examinations. These technologies did not disrupt the mechanisms of a structured industrialised school. In fact they incrementally reinforced it. 20th century technologies were largely teacher controlled and assisted teachers as a machine like muscle. They required horizontal based learning to be employed.  Teachers required some type of technical learning, like how to record a television show or operate a photocopier, however the how to use was singular in function and derivative of a known work practice, such as the transference of a paper and marker to an electronic student attendance process. Their introduction did not disrupt teaching as managers focussed on replacing previous technologies within the same contextual paradigm. They did not disrupt - organisational behaviour and industrialised teaching practices were reinforced. The technologies were employed for incremental improvement. Blackboards became whiteboards and whiteboards became interactive whiteboards. They were instigated into the classroom to increase productivity by removing teacher time-waste and repetitive menial tasks. A small list of 20th century classroom-based efficient technologies would include:

  • Test Scoring Machines to support mass scale standardised multiple choice testing.
  • Typewriters and liquid paper.
  • Slide and overhead projectors.
  • Live radio broadcasts.
  • Reading accelerators.
  • Science Research Associates (SRA) cards.
  • Transition from nib and ink to fountain pen to ballpoint pen.
  • Broadcast of educational television and the use of videotapes.
  • Calculators for drill and practice.
  • Spirit printers to photocopiers.
  • Computers labs and microsoft office
  • Interactive whiteboards.
  • The internet as a ‘library like’ resource.

Even the late 20th century technologies did not call for leadership deliberation.  They were not the game changers, like bringing mobile phones into learning activities, as implementation only required broad logistical management and administrative considerations, such as acquisition, cost and access. For example; microsoft word was firstly accessible in computer labs which replaced typing rooms to be employed as an assistive technology in essay writing; and photocopy machines alleviated teachers from the task of writing copious amount of instruction onto a blackboard. To be employed they did not require any change in the relationship of traditional disciplined teaching. Where the mobile phone places control into the hands of the students, the computer lab maintained teacher control. They did not change the content, the attitudes, and or the cultural habits between teachers and students. As such, the leadership skills required for implementing such technologies within schools largely concerned acquisition, distribution (photocopy quotes) and timetabled access (to computer labs). Perhaps one of the biggest management decisions concerned student access to the internet. However even this did not alter the emphasis of control on use. To provide a safe harbour, similar to the experience of visiting a school library, content filters and monitoring processes became the conditioners of learning application. The purpose of visiting the library and the internet was a synonymous experience.  In other words, acting as a controlled efficiency improvement, these one dimensional technologies assisted classroom organisation and access of curriculum content without disruption (Murphy 2012).
20th century technologies did not provide any external shocks. Management attention did not shift focus from implementation to progressive teaching and learning practices. Alongside classroom based technologies controlled system management technologies emerged. These technologies oiled the  industrialised school machine by engineering incremental data-flow improvement and enforced accountability through the execution of connected data collection systems. System wide technologies ratified operational processes by increasing the speed of data-flow between schools and corporate education, and on a jurisdictional level strengthened administrative/management hierarchy. Learning and administration technologies were implemented to enhance efficiency and to regulate and reduce threats, such as declining test scores. The Australian National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is perhaps the pinnacle of employing  system level technologies to improve accountable servicing conforming with the industrialised social efficiency ideology. The capacity to engineer compliance and regulation are strong elements of system level technology implementation. NAPLAN is a powerful management compliancy and incremental technology structure.

Whole of System Technologies and Management

Whole of system technologies were implemented and standardised to increase the ease of technical support, gain efficiencies in distribution and costs, and centralise student achievement data. Engineered stability became an implicit however outright agenda of managing technology implementation across the Department. This whole-of-system technology reinforced an envelope of centralised controllers to enhance bureaucratic control of school leaders.  It is easy for corporate managers to quickly scan student data to question school principals. Student achievement can be employed as the basis of performance management of school principals by executive administrators. Data inspection can be easily accessed and presented in all forms of dashboard graphs.
Centralised systems technology ensured that schools became increasingly more uniformed and bureaucratic (Munford 2008). ‘Command-and-control’ (Caldwell and Spinks 2013) management can readily employ these technologies to maintain focus on compliance and accountability checks  of curriculum content and individualised achievement. Whilst command-and-control management practices were once viable in gaining standardisation across curriculum content, instructional roles and responsibilities, and test and examinations, this social efficiency ideology is now the problem in itself. Systems standardised technologies is employed by management practices to enhance accountability and compliance at the expense of nurturing new forms of teaching and learning practices. In short technology has changed the world, however technology in schools concerned ways of reinforcing standardisation, accountability and compliance through command-and-control management. This emphasis is a 20th century mindset and is employed to the detriment of nurturing 21st century human potential.
The hierarchical structures and the carrot-and-stick management  manifestations, which steeled the social efficiency provisioning backbone, is now faulting schools, as positional managers without realising are failing to remain  relevant within exponential technological, social and economy based change. The focus has become inward and inspection based rather than outward and connected. WIthout leadership that can contend with disruptive change, societal change is not being included within the Department or within schools. The borders which is the school gate has been reinforced. The gatekeeper is preferenced over the innovator. Centralised technologies enables the bureaucratic mechanisms to inhibit the creative source of school leadership. This is now the critical issue, as  “... in a very real sense we have tried to run the public schools the same way the Soviets tried to run factories, and now we’re paying the price” (Beers and Ellig 1994, p20). The look and feel of Australian schools will not reflect societal use of 21st century technology as within the contemporary social environment in which schools are placed, whilst maintaining command-and-control management structures.
Of concern is the average age of our Principals and Executive Managers. As the average of Australian school principals is 53.2 years (ACER 2014) most executive positions are occupied by people who are well experienced in the skills of industrialised management. They are not skilled in the application of 21st century technology. Whilst age is not the core issue, the Department needs to place considerable effort on shifting Principals' mindset understandings as a regulated manager to that of a leader who can participate within augmented, virtual and connected digital networks. It requires positional leaders to release control and enable all within their field of responsibility to participate within a collective of learning to successfully employ connected 21st century technologies within the classroom environment.

The Force of Change

Whilst automated technologies will continue to be introduced into schools, with the purpose to increase greater efficiency, standardisation, compliance and accountability, school management faces new variances of technology. This being the second wave - machines with mechanical minds. As school management realises the benefits of these technologies, in regards to providing augmented learning services, tensions between corporate and school leadership will emerge. A network market-like environment is already emerging and challenge standardised and controlled systems. In effect jail-like insular systems will be replaced by globalised interconnected network systems. These cloud-based interconnected networks will bring forth an exponential second wave of intelligent services. The Department will need to move from a buy, maintain and lock down internal server matrix to distributed cloud service level agreements.  Eventually schools and corporate will need to develop distributed leadership responsibilities to successfully employ these augmentation services. In other words students and teachers will need to access leadership levels of responsibility if they are to teach and learn within distribute globalised intelligent networks.
For students and teachers to employ these smart services, as partners and collaborators of learning, transformation from efficient information transference to the development of transformative, contrarian and experimental leadership skills will needs to occur. Where the present inspection of data is based on attendance and achievement future inspection will include tacit human potential capacities. In the ‘... era of innovation the emphasis will be on the upside of people’ and the tasks that are not replace by automated technology, such as ‘creative problem solving’, ‘uncovering new insights’ and questioning ‘why’ (Davenport & Kirby 2015).
This moves the task of leadership from implementing administrative based management technologies, which are focussed on incremental improvement of present practices, to intelligent systems that will demand transformative changes in how schools operate, and how teaching and learning practices can occur. Educational leaders will need to consider how to identify, re-define and formalise new strategic agents within the interconnected social and organisational structures of the school. This includes; strategic leadership within uncertainty, resistance and morphic behaviour; and new human potential based measurements of student learning behaviour, such as cognitive,emotional and behavioural engagement (Fredericks & McColskey 2004), and intangible teaching staff attributes such as attitude, learning relationships, commitment and organisational health.  Implementing 21st century machine mind technologies requires leaders who can enable the interpolation of complex interpersonal belief structures, collective capacity/readiness for change, achievable change based boundaries and acceptable behavioural expectations across and beyond the school boundary.  

Management and Denial of Student Empowerment

This essay concerns the development of an adapatable leadership mindset that may best suit semi-predictable and uncertain forces of disruptive change; the endeavour to address volatile complex problems without resorting to singular solution finding; and having the skills to re-shape organisational  and systems capacity to nurture human potential. 21st century technologies is bringing forth societal change that is interconnected, disrupts known practices and challenges forward thinking. School leaders require the mindset ‘.. to make sense of the world in more complex and inclusive ways’ (Petrie 2014, p10). This is a shift away from ‘oneway hierarchical, organization centric communication toward two-way, network-centric, participatory, and collaborative leadership styles. Most of all a new mind-set seems most necessary to enable schools to enable new skills and knowledge. All the tools in the world will not change anything if the mind-set does not allow and support change (Spilker & Doerffer 2010, p3)’.
New Media Consortium (NMC) Report (2015 K-12 Edition) views the foreseeable long-term technological impact trend as the re-inventor of how traditional schools operate. However, this reinvention requires the removal of limiting organisational management  practices and implementation, and the development of new practices through the generation of new leadership mindsets that can work with disruption. The disruptive emergence of mobile phones is a casing point. As many of our youth increased ownership in phone technology they become disruptive within the traditional hierarchical teacher and student schooling context. This being the teacher command-and controls teaching agent and learners as the passive learning agent. The Conversation highlights a banning of student phones in school as a trend that coincides with the increased capacity of phone technology and student ownership. Surveyed English schools in 2001 had no bans in place, however by 2007 50% had bans and in 2012 98% of surveyed schools had instigated bans on mobile phones (Conversation 2015). This research also notes that banning mobile phones increased test scores. Mobile phones disrupted teaching as the student was distracted by personalised interest. This disregard of empowering learning through personal interest and the approach of denying access is an industrialised managerial mindset, as it reverts to past measuring practice as the solution rather than identifying new ways to employ this powerful technology. Pew Research Centre places mobile text messaging as the centrepiece of youth friend-to-friend communication, with a third of teenages posting 100 text messages a day. Whilst schools employ industrial type management strategies and or switch-all-phones-off classroom rules, to curb disruptive technology, students are empowering themselves by employing mobile smart phones to take photos, share content such as videos, play music and games, search the internet, participate in social media sites and make purchases (Kraut, Brynin, & Kiesler 2010). Students are using these devices to empower themselves. National Assessment Program ICT Literacy (NAP ICTL) 2011 reports identifies a relationship between use and test achievement. Where students don’t have access to connected computing devices, outside of school, test achievement is substantially lower. Remote indigenous students achieved significantly lower achievement standards in the 2011 test.
Singular punitive solutions employed by school leaders to address such disruptive technologies demonstrates positional leadership’s inability to make sense of such ill-defined forces of change. This student owned student controlled power enforcing capacity clashes against the management ideology of regulated and industrialised schooling. Student ownership of mobile phones is a disruptive social force as it flows against the teacher command-and-control baseline.
Tatiana Glad (OECD 2015) describes a general inability within government organisations to learn alongside the rapid changes which are driven by globalised social based entrepreneurial organisations, such as Facebook, Facebook and Google Apps. Government education departments as with school leaders need to challenge their understandings to reconsider and seek new systems and structural processes. The impending technological and social changes require leadership across corporate and schools to rethink policy, organisational structures and how learning manifests under changed conditions. Schools require a form of leadership which can deliberate whilst the classroom experiences disruption. Schools require leaders who can strategise without fear to lead within disruptive technology induced change. Else through the continuation of regulated command-control management forces, schools may increasingly seize the opportunity to employ punitive bureaucratic measures to ward off disruptive technologies in the name of maintaining quality standards. The leadership problem at hand is rooted within the philosophical and mindset understandings of governance: industrialised management or human potential leadership. This inability and this banning of disruptive classroom technologies is maiming our students’ human potential.

Students and Employability - Confident and Capable Citizens

In 2014 my fourteen year old son / year nine student, facebooked me this video, ‘Humans need not apply’ ( The actuality of my child viewing future employment as a diminishing opportunity raised my parental concerns and confronted my educator’s field of responsibility. I am deeply concerned that my child may not gain the suitable skills to access a lifetime of fulfilled employment and the associated benefits gained as a contributing participant in society. As an educator I am concerned to whether our schools can build the appropriate capacities of students, to become work ready and sufficiently adaptable for future changes in the globalised workplace. I am concerned that the average aged of teachers continues to grow and doesn’t have an understanding of the changing needs of learning and what employability skills students require to enter the globalised workforce. ‘The average age of the Australian teacher is 43.4 years and the proportion of teachers aged 50 or above has increased from 32.7 per cent in 2008 to 37.1 per cent in 2013’ (ACER 2014). This is influencing a tacit disconnect between the endeavours within the classroom and the workplace. Our aging service is inadvertently disregarding the employability skill needs of our youth. The demographics of an aging teacher workforce is also maintaining a traditional bubble of learning needs through their authoritative status. 37.1 percent is a decision making behavioural force.
The significant issue is that youth not in education, employment or training (NEET) overwhelmingly face higher risks of social exclusion and lessening skills to improve their economic situation (OECD 2015). ‘Psychologists (Eisenberg and Lazarsfield 1938) and sociologists (Jahoda et al. 1933) have argued as far back as the Great Depression that unemployment damages emotional health and undermines the social fabric of society. Psychologists draw a conceptual connection between involuntary joblessness and mental health in numerous ways such as: incomplete psychosocial development (Erikson 1959), feelings of helplessness brought on by a perceived lack of control (Seligman 1975) and a sense of failure brought about through inability to obtain nonmonetary benefits of work (Warr 1987)’ (Goldsmith & Diette 2012). Employability manners inequality and poverty.
Today’s youth face a difficult entry into work. The International Labour Organization (ILO) points to a continued environment of heightened youth unemployment. On a global level there is presently 74 million young people (aged 15-24) unemployed. As in the teaching force, adults are clinging to professional jobs and through behavioural resistance are maintaining traditional practices and thus denying disruptive evolving semantic computer systems. In general, youth unemployment averages 3 times higher than the adult rate. ILO reports that job creation rates are not keeping up with population growth and despite improved student retention and academic attainment, continuation of heightened youth unemployment will continue (ILO 2015, p 11). The Australian Unemployment Union points to an Australian graduate underemployment trend of approximately 10% in 2008 to 15% in 2015. Approximately 17% of postgraduates (Australian Unemployment Union 2015) are unemployed in comparison with 3.9% of adults (Trading Economics June 2015). The Territorian unemployment rate is 4.4% (Australian Government 2015), rural youth rate is 18.5% (ABC 2014) and the Darwin youth rate is 9.4% (SBS 2015).
Youth employability skills, despite their education level status, is a global issue. Even though two-thirds of South Koreans aged 25-34 have a college degree (the highest proportion in the OECD) graduates faced an increasing shortage of jobs that they are qualified for (Yang 2015). South Korea, youth aged between 15 and 29 face a 9.9% unemployment rate and 34.8% enter the workforce under temporary contractual conditions (Ebeling 2015). The connection between formal institutionalised learning and employability is becoming less symbiotic, as learning within schooling and higher education is not optimised with contemporary student employability needs. It is common to read that there is a shortage of students exiting school without science/technology skills whilst there is a growing shortage of ICT professionals (Redrup 2015). A 2013 Australian Government position paper identifies the need to increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to increase access to work, quality of life and sustainable economic growth (Office of the Chief Scientist 2013) ‘By 2022, the computer and mathematical occupations group is expected to yield more than 1.3 million job openings. However, unlike in most occupational groups, more job openings will stem from growth than from the need to replace workers who change occupations or leave the labor force’ (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013). Based on this predicted growth, there seems to be  logistical gaps between education and employment, and that the pathways from school to employment requires leadership attention. Students need  the employability skills required for the emerging jobs within the digital economy. Students need an adaptable schooling system that can quickly respond to emerging inequality and poverty divisions brought about by globalisation and machines with minds.
From my observations our schools do not have a student employability vision, and are developing skill-sets for jobs that are disappearing.  The employability gap is a significant factor that schools must address. The underlying imperative is that educational institutions must recontextualisation purpose if they are to remain relevant within the advancing global economy. This is a future based problem which requires future focussed school leaders.
‘Humans need not apply’ identifies an imminent, and foreseeable insight that is confronting and alarmist. A philosophical point of the video is that through mechanical technology humankind has transitioned from menial work to work that requires specialist and higher order skills. However, this linear progression may not be as easily managed as a second wave of computing technology gains the capacity of ‘mechanical minds’ (CGP Grey 2014, 0:51). Grey associates the speed of exponential advancement and the depth of societal impact general purpose computers have unleashed on society since the late 1980’s, with that of machines with evolutionary based programmable minds. Simply put, a lot has changed since the first Apple Macintosh debuted in 1984 and a lot more will change with the advancement of machines with evolutionary artificial intelligence. Grey’s significant concern is that these ‘... mechanical minds are out competing humans for jobs in a way no pure mechanical muscle ever could’ (CGP Grey 2014, 3:27).
Departmental strategic plans need to explicitly focus on students gaining the critical employability skills to become confident and capable global citizens. Can schools prepare students for a competitive global workplace which includes machines with mechanical minds? How can leaders reshape schools and provision learning organisational structures to enable human potential and future employability skills within the perceivable time period of 2015 -2025? Can school leaders address the new inequality and poverty divisions brought about by globalisation and an increasingly disconnected teaching force? Is 10 years too short?

The Problem: Machines with Minds and School Readiness

In 2014 Pew Research Center  invited a targeted list of 1,896 experts, featuring research scientists, entrepreneurs, technology developers, futurists and politicians (key list), to express their points of view in regards to robotics and artificial intelligence, and their effect on work and society. The survey asked participants to project their insights up to the year 2025.  Pew Research found that on the whole participants viewed a similar future where robots and artificial intelligence will most definitely impact on a range of professions. The survey did point to general disagreement concerning job creation. A two-sided polarised theme exists. This being reasons to be hopeful and reasons to be concerned.
Table 1: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs
Key theme: reasons to be hopeful
Key theme: reasons to be concerned
  1. Advances in technology may displace certain types of work, but historically they have been a net creator of jobs.
  2. We will adapt to these changes by inventing entirely new types of work, and by taking advantage of uniquely human capabilities.
  3. Technology will free us from day-to-day drudgery, and allow us to define our relationship with “work” in a more positive and socially beneficial way.
  4. Ultimately, we as a society control our own destiny through the choices we make.
  1. Impacts from automation have thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well.
  2. Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment—but far more may be displaced into lower paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst.
  3. Our educational system is not adequately preparing us for work of the future, and our political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle these hard choices.
Pew Research Centre 2014
n regards to this essay, a 10 year forecast is pertinent to our educational institutions. A student who is currently in year 3 would complete year 12 in 2025. These year 3 students will pathway from school into higher education and or attempt to enter a workforce where many of the present-day-jobs have been replaced by automated and mechanical-minded technology. Our graduating students will need the work ready skills for highly skilled jobs, which in probability do not exist today. It is questionable that over the next 10 years our year 3 students will gain adequate preparation, within our present day schooling structures, to enter the post 2025 job market. In regards to education, the Pew ‘AI, Robotics and Future of Jobs’ research identified a consistent point of agreement. This point of agreement is unequivocal.  ‘The educational system is doing a poor job of preparing the next generation of workers’ (Pew 2014). This failure of provisioning is a failure in leadership.
2015 youth are experiencing significant difficulties entering the workforce. 2025 youth will find it considerably more difficult. Schools will need to reengineer their learning programs and delivery practices to enable all students the capacities to enter the post 2025 workplace. The theme of this paper is that machines with mechanical minds are a disruptive innovation which will significantly alter social activity, institutional operations, employment trends and entrepreneurial opportunities, and it is questionable that the educational leaders of our schooling institutions are prepared. It is a disruptive force that has not been experienced before. The underlying need of our educational service is the development of leadership skills synonymous with the repercussions of disruptive machine mind technology. Our leaders must not contribute to the gap of inequality and poverty through a service that doesn’t consider future employability needs.

Within the next 10 years education leaders cannot revert back to the methods of industrial management which failed to implement teaching and learning change within the first wave of connected and automated computing. Doing what we do now but better is not enough. The Department cannot continue in its manner of regulating leadership based on past measurements of success.

Machine Mind Technology and Leadership

The Australian Digital Revolution (DER) was launched in 2008 with a budget of $2.2 billion (National Partnership 2009). The DER  in-school focus targeted; student (Years 9-12) access to laptops, connecting schools to broadband, the development of digital curriculum resources and the development of teachers’ ICT proficiency. As a baseline transformation implementation, the DER could be credited with identifying a need for computers and use of digital resources in schools. However, the managerial approach which centred on infusion of technology as a silver bullet lead to the uptake of technology as an addon to current teaching and learning practices. Mal Lee (a former director of schools and  secondary college principal) summarised the DER as a lost opportunity. On the whole, uptake of technology usage in the classroom has been low with a corresponding low number of schools which ‘normalised’ technological use. A gap has emerged between the low number of schools who have normalised technological used and the majority of schools still locked in the industrial age paper-based model with technology as an addon(Lee 2013). If the last 7 years, with a substantial backbone of Federal Government reform based spending, gained little transformation there seems to be little possibility of whole system change over the next 10 years. With a background of exponential disruptive technology infuse societal change and foreseeable limitations of government financial in schools, Departmental support of new forms of leadership is essential. Over the next 10 years the imperative of schools is to have in place leaders who can enable adaptive structural strategies, decision making processes and workplace practices that accommodates continual transformative change.
The failures of schools to reconsider leadership change within the realms of the DER should sound as a warning.  The critical step of digital normalisation was missed and until leadership mindset is realised school’s will not be in the ‘... position to continually take advantage of sophisticated technology and meet society’s expectations’ (Reads 2014). This loss chance, this deepening of disconnect is a leadership problem across the Department and schools. 21st century schools require leaders who can transform their schools from a 20th century industrial-based mass efficiency paradigm to an ill defined transformational approach. Without this leadership  consideration disruptive digital economy, globalisation and a speed of technology change which will outstrip schooling relevance. Where educational leaders of the last decade, were challenged and on the whole failed to enable the normalisation of internet connected computers within instruction, our educational leaders are now challenged with normalising a learning service which can enable students to successfully enter into an emerging Bio, Info, Nano and Cognitive (BINC) technology driven globally connected society.
The London Futurists predict that over the next decade disruptive technologies will change personal and organisational value systems and philosophical endeavour. The disruptive technology which is predicted to influence learning organisations include:

  • Wearable technologies where student can self monitor and control technical devices and augmented reality.
  • Big Data and Internet of Things where data will be gained from user activity as well as  interface the user within data rich surroundings.
  • Brain scanning technologies which employs both external and internal sensors.
  • Smart mind-enhancement drugs which can enhance students concentration, memory, ingenuity, intelligence and mood.
  • Creativity customisable goods through precise 3D and 4D printers/laser cutters.
  • Automated robot workers in the teaching professions.
  • Cognitive computing with human-like machine intelligence
  • Rational decision making management systems.
  • Increase computing speed and capacity via quantum computing.(Stevenson et al 2014)
It is an imperative that schools have post-industrial skilled leaders who have the capacity to make sense of the world where technological developments outmaneuver past expectations and practices. In effect school leaders will need to understand the effect of projected change and make organisational decisions based on the emerging manifestations of the 21st century economy and society within a national and global sense (Rasmussen 2015). These are ambitious goals and post-industrial leaders will need to be technically astute, have personable transformation skills, manage conflicting understandings, make relevance and build purpose driven relationships to accommodate disruptive technological predictions such as human and computer symbiosis/augmentation and the emergence of artificial intelligence.

Human-Computer Symbiosis:

The development of human and computer symbiotic interaction will enable machines to better understand users as well as make themselves understandable. This would empower the emergence of learning systems which are human friendly and would increase human performance through increased memory, understanding and awareness (Tan & Nijholt 2010). What is now identified as real or digital will quickly morph into an intertwined hybrid experience. This intertwined hybrid experience will be deepened by emotional, behavioural and predictive interactions. Such symbiotic systems will employ massive amounts of data from a large mass of users without their awareness, as well as be employed to influence users’ decisions. Symbiotic interaction between humans and machines will be the result of ‘combining computation and sensory technology and interaction to realize deep perception awareness and understanding between humans and computers’ (van Erp et al 2010 p9). Service oriented platforms will emerge where data footprints will inform teachers and learners of personalised learning achievement. Such platforms will require schools to develop new approaches to personalised learning (Foster 1996). Recent developments in learning analytics capacities within Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Moodle point to a new era of student self monitoring progress.   This includes semantic systems (machine readable data structures)  where students actions and learning progress are continuously monitored by machine algorithms to detect student understandings and misconceptions, and redirect learning programs to accommodate student progress.  In other words the semantic systems may become a pedagogical agent (Devedzic 2004).

The emergence of artificial consciousness:

Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle in the development of technologies based on nanoscience and neuroscience, believes that ‘consciousness is a product of structures’ and that consciousness could emerge in machines as an ‘integrated entity’ of ‘highly differentiated states’ (Koch 2009 p17). Medical efficiencies via machines: Sun Microsystems Co-Founder Vinod Khosla states that  ‘by 2025, 80 percent of functions doctors do will be done much better and much more cheaply by machines and machine learned algorithms’ (Farr 2013). Advancements will be made through online big data, robotics, sensor devices and networks, and algorithmic tools. In regards to education artificial intelligence will enable automation within grading and reporting, enabling custom tailored learning programs, remove gaps in learning programs, instigate machine based tutorial systems and shift the teacher from a controlling to a facilitating role (UNSW 2014).

The Augmented Cognitive Tutor:

Whilst late 20th century computers increased person-to-information efficiency the process was very similar to finding a book within a library. These computers programs were container like and employed regimented forms of indexing and search processes to connect uses with the appropriate information. Like an advanced library classification system, early search engines employed complicated mechanical methods though the use of metadata standards and boolean commands.  In general the user had to remember the rules of engagement as the search process was fabricated through regimented linear lists. In short, the user had to know the machine and employ the machine process to access desired information. This required the middle person manager between the user and the platform. 21st century cognitive search engines have flipped this process, in that these system aim to know the user. They construct an understanding of the user as the user engages search activity. The more the user employs the process the more the machine understands the user’s need. Logically, the more the machine knows the user the less there is a need for the middle person manager.
This capacity flip took less than 20 years to emerge and  is now referred as a semantic search processes. In the mid 1990’s Alstavista became the first search engine to employ natural language queries. By 2015 adaptive search capacity came into use, where the machine manipulates search results from previous queries. Backend algorithms are employed to display content based on intent rather than metadata or keyword data (Gavrilas 2014). Henry Ruiz, CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, describes the capacity of machines to question the user. Rather than the user drilling down the machine, the machine now has the capacity to drill down user preferences. The machine not only knows the user’s natural language query behaviours it also can personalise specific user focussed queries. The machine is developing the capacity to ask why.
The rise of cognitive-machine-based-tutor platforms are now enabling students to access one-on-one pesonalised interactive transactions. This machine type is connected to subject expertise, has the capacity to know the user’s cognitive behaviours through continuous monitoring and the capacity to question. These platforms are logistical engineered to provide anytime and anyplace personalised tutorial environments that is beyond the scope of a regimented timetabled classroom teacher. Whilst book based instruction relied on a teacher to contextualise the constructive learning experience, augmented cognitive tutors  continually adapt content to enable an adaptive constructive learning experience. It is possible that cognitive machine tutors will gain a deeper understanding of the student than that of the present day teacher.  It is only a matter of time that the student-teacher trust based relationships are disrupted by student-machine trust based relationships. If the machine recognises the user’s behavioural patterns, makes insightful decisions on knowledge content and understands the user’s intention relationship like trust will emerge. Whilst not employed by in most schools, augmented Cognitive Tutor platforms such as digitalACE, Cengage Learning, and Knewton are already employed elsewhere within a minority of classroom environments. Second wave intelligent machines will question the role of teachers. As a disruptive force these machines will become cheaper than a human resource. Educational executive leaders must now question the role of teachers and remove obstructions that maintain teachers as the controller-managers of classroom learning.

21st Century Leadership

21st century school leaders need to be able to lead towards the future with adaptable skills and knowledge where there is little exemplary practice or evidence based data.  To move forward, leaders need to have the skills to apply theory alongside action rather than relying on historical data (Christensen 2012). Within this landscape of exponential change, education leaders face an obstructive  and contradictory barrage of sociopolitical pressure, a legacy of accountability measures and unpredictable market like forces (Reid 2009). Within this complex realm, the efforts of leadership in schools cannot rest on making the trains run on time. Whilst the alignment of organisational operations is required, 21st century school leaders must enable the whole school to move forward together within multiple domains of uncertainty. The focus on improving human resource and teaching within an augmented tutor learning service will require progressive leadership. Intelligent machine disruptive technologies will impact of the profession of teaching and the school structure itself. Australian Council for Educational Research identifies advances in science and technology, pressure on the environment, changes in demography and globalization as the significant contextual forces schools leaders, corporate educational leaders, stakeholder societal and political leaders must address. Leaders must take appropriate forward steps. Ultimately it is the intention of executive leaders that will action/output behaviour, and this intent will forge schools tobecome either;

  • increasingly more uniformed and bureaucratic,  
  • more social center like,
  • interconnect within a matrix of connected services,
  • become market driven through consumer driven choices, and or
  • fall into a state of disrepair due to rising costs and falling budgets. (Munford 2008)
  • The Eminent Leadership Challenges

    Education leaders need to be able to make capacity and potential based provisioning decisions involving human resource/people, organisational business and technologies of the organisation. These three elements intersect  within Social Technology and Work Technology Convergence, Workplace and Employability Shifts and Globalised Economy.

  • Human resource/people.
      • Leaders need to re-engineer teaching and learning practices.
      • Leaders need to enable practices to cater for an increased mobile student population.
      • Leaders need to address psychological mindset based issues brought about by the increased age gap between teachers and students.
      • Leaders need to distribute responsibility.
  • Organisational business.
      • Leaders need to address priority allocation of resource within global budgets.
      • Leaders need to address community expectations.
      • Leaders need to seek business partners and outsourcing arrangements.
      • Leaders need to consider virtual components augmented with brick and mortar operations.
      • Leaders need to make innovation as an imperative value within business operations.
  • Technology.
      • Leaders need to improve processes based on big data (student and teacher) digital footprints.
      • Leaders need to empower teachers and students to employ personalised technology.
      • Leaders need to cut operational costs via service cloud computing.
      • Leaders need to be able to implement an augmented learning service that  includes intelligent robots/machines.
  • Social Technology and Work Technology Convergence.
      • Leaders need to strategically juxtapose competing technologies as students increasingly participate within new media communication platforms which are difficult to governed within present policies and guidelines.
      • Leaders need to alter resource development from centralised to decentralized platforms.
  • Workplace and Employability Shifts.
      • Leaders need to realise the gaps between present day workplace expectations and mass education outputs.
      • Leaders need to re-invent the roles and relationship between students, teachers and third party providers.
  • Globalised Economy
      • Leaders need to build strategy, based on global trend analysis. This includes strategic efforts to;
        • remove structural artefacts which drive inequality,
        • recognise growing youth unemployment and increase students employability skills,
        • develop leadership skills across the agency and schools, by lowering the priority of centralised industrialised management skills against opportunity, innovation and human potential skills, and
        • increase cultural inclusivity across all learning domains.

The identification of leadership across corporate and schools shifts the emphasis from simplictic behavioural methodologies to realising that education situation post 2015 is becoming increasingly complex. Whilst the previous century may have viewed schooling as an applied science based on linear improvement (Sergiovanni 1991), post industrial schooling incorporates change, novelty and self-organisation (Morrison 2002). Post industrial schooling will require a new understanding in how learning occurs. For schools to move from a linear compliance base to a complex self-organisational service, leaders will need to develop structures, strategies and have a teacher force that can design a nonlinear, adaptive and personalised learning environment. School and teacher performance measures will need to include future oriented values, purposefulness and innovation (Ng 2015).

Complexity and Leadership Concepts

The anticipated change presented in this essay requires schools to develop the capacity  to innovate and reform. Schools require leaders who can balance management and innovation, include teachers and students within the leadership domain, involve public and community involvement, reinvest/refocus spending on obtaining required semantic resources, identify new parameters of success and can work with multiple levels of evidence and most importantly participate and gain knowledge in professional networks (Hargreaves and Shirley 2009). Whilst there is a need to move away from command-control centralised authority there is an equal need for systemness. Fullan targets change/reform as a whole of system agenda (Fullan 2011). It is essential that there is not a divide between corporate education and schools. Corporate leaders must ensure they provision sufficient resources and funding to support a critical number of school to meet the challenge by developing on-site leadership capabilities to seed and afford system-wide innovative transformational change. Whilst innovation and creativity can emerge within individualistic endeavour letting a thousand poppies bloom can also lead to allowing a thousand poppies to die. The balance between individualised innovation and centre staged innovation must be united by vision, goals and purposefulness.  
An explicit vision with identifiable goals and whole of organisational purposefulness is required if schools are to transform from linear production houses to a self-organising adaptable constructs. To achieve this leadership needs to become activity based. Innovative and reforming activity requires dispersed leadership that aligns with the whole of organisation’s contextual purpose, goals and intended outcomes. Complex school systems require human resource (teachers, senior teachers, executive teachers and students) to self organise their interactions within the learning activities. Leaders will need to move from an individualistic centered power base to a network of peer participation. Within a globalised context this includes networks across multiple organisations to engage and develop skills, knowledge and conceptual understandings. Leadership development needs to transition from linear progression within narrow fields to broad globalised networks. The development of Australian Educational leaders will be diminished if they are harnessed by organisational centric and or faculty centric knowledge. Australian school leaders must seek leadership knowledge and understandings from a global learning needs base.

Experimental, Transformative and Contrarian Leadership

For schools to become learner centric and prepare children for the seemingly impossible-to-anticipate future, Riel Miller urges leaders to enhance their capacity of understanding the mechanisms that support successful schooling and how to apply evidence based experiments to discover new methods that make sense of ill-defined challenges. This requires leaders to develop skills that build capacity through making sense of the future, build the collective intelligence of the organisation to become future capable, and to be able to make incisive decisions in conjunction with the ability to incisively abstain from decisions. The leadership skills Miller refers to are:

  • The ability to anticipate the future.
  • Making sense of the 21st century.
  • Interconnecting partnerships as global educational leaders.(Miller 2015)

Successful change will be leader interdependent rather than insular sole endevours. Capacity to transform an organisation that is in internally centric and in decline, to one that looks outwards to accommodate external challenges and is future orientated, requires dispersed leadership activity. Transformation of schools is complex. The confronting question emergent school leaders must ask as they decentralised authoritative services is - ‘How can today’s schools be transformed so as to become environments of teaching and learning that makes individuals lifelong learners and prepare them for the 21st century’ (Groff 2013 p 1)? The dispersion of responsibility must encompass the student. Students must gain self-organising leadership capacity and self-efficacy.

Moving a school towards self-transformation is progressively complex. Transitioning from a standardised centrally controlled environment to a 21st century global, highly adaptive and augmented machine-human environment requires an awareness of place and capacity. Not all schools are readily capable to move towards autonomous and self-transforming paradigms.  Professor Andy Hargreaves refers to four ways of reform and the need of vision, coherence, strategic leadership and collaborative community engagement. Schools are unable to move to self-transformation if capacities within the school do not exist. This includes leadership skills, administrative knowledge, teacher motivation, and student learning culture. ‘To be high achieving, educators school systems need the right kind of purpose that inspires them, a strengthened professionalism that propels them forward, and a cultural structural coherence that holds them together’ (Hargreaves 2012 location 160). Urgency of transformation is required, however the development of professional capability and school systems level coherence is essential. Transformative leadership skills are required to get all participants emotionally engaged. ‘A people-driven reform is more likely to succeed than a program-driven reform - so it is important to establish networks, provide capacity building and encourage dialogue and sharing’ (Cole and Redman 2012 p 13). Transformative leaders need to know the capacity levels of their school to instigate appropriate transformational steps.

Figure 1: Stages of self transforming schools: Technology and Pedagogy.
Reprint from Anderson, J. - UNESCO Bangkok, 2010: based on Anderson and van Weert (2002) and Majumdar (2005)

Figure 1: Stages of self transforming schools refers to ICT adoption and pedagogical application.

  • Emerging and Applying phases is largely teacher and systems controlled where learning is passive content driven.
  • Infusing phase enables autonomy and learners centredness.
  • Transforming phase enables ‘critical thinking, whole-learner learning, collaborative learning and collaborative knowledge’ (Anderson 2010 p 57) essential for global learning environments and cultural discourse.

To afford change leaders must also take a contrarian approach. This involves stating explicitly what needs to be done and getting it done, agitating for response, and tactically instigating actions to trigger and displace the sense of passive equilibrium. As a contrarian leader school leaders must ground themselves within the more progressive elements of the initiative, national standards and professional frameworks, as well as the Departmental and the school’s strategic plans. The leader must be involved on a mind and heart level and not be detached from its operations. It is important that the leader doesn’t seek simple black and white answers, and apply conventional understanding when addressing ill-defined complex problems. Innovation requires leaders who can make tactfully observations, have incisive questioning skills and be adaptable to re-positional/re-orientation prior to engaging decisions. Sample (2001) states that to be a successful contrarian leader, the leader must listen for new ideas and seek paths to turn conventional wisdom on it’s head.


Ultimately it will be the school’s leadership capacity which will determine the professional mannerisms of teaching and learning within the school. Whether schools become a standardised structure driven by controlling bureaucratic measures or a client centred service within an interconnected matrix will depend on the innovative capacities of the school’s dispersed leadership structures. School leaders must have the adaptive dexterity to enable contextualisation and prevent the likelihood of a service falling into disrepair whilst within the throes of change. The Department requires leaders who can work with the challenges of the post industrial era and are innovation competent. ‘Real innovations are untested propositions, which have little direct precedent and are fundamentally experimental in character, meaning that innovations often fail. This does not sit comfortably with dominant administrative (hierarchical) decision-making systems, allergic to failure and largely defensive in their efforts to improve existing systems based on evidence that is of necessity from the past’ (Miller 2015, p4).
School leaders will make strategic choices and these choices can either detriment or afford students’ future aspirations and socioeconomic status, and on mass effect society's future prosperity. The decisions made by  school leadership is already having an effect. Policy Horizons Canada refers to the challenges associated with a  growing digital divide manifesting within this era of rapid change where industry and technology merges and a fastening convergence of life-sciences, neuroscience and technology domains (Government of Canada 2013). In reference to the United Kingdom, Andy Green (Chief Executive of BT Global Services) is concerned with an emergence of new ‘borders’ that separate ‘...people who have skills and those who don’t, who speak the right language and those who don’t, and who are flexible and those who resist change. These factors will separate success from failure in the future. There is no room for complacency in the information society’ (Green 2007, p3).
The 2011 NAPL ICTL report was the first report  by the authority to include Indigenous students as a study group. On a national level, the 2011 NAP ICTL results show ‘a substantial gap in ICT Literacy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.  Of concern is that in year 10, the percentage of non-Indigenous frequent computer users at school was ten percent higher than the corresponding percentage of Indigenous students’ (NAP ICTL 2011 p 76). The 2011 NAP ICTL report states that the ‘differences associated with socioeconomic background, Indigenous status and geographic location ……. need to be addressed if all young Australians are to be creative and productive users of technology (NAP ICTL 2011 p 31). These factors indicate a increasing gap of inequality within human potential across non indigenous and indigenous students. These factors indicate an urgency to take a new approach by 21st century student centered leadership.
Remote Indigenous students desperately need exposure to 21st century online applications to keep up with non-Indigenous students. Remote schools have not kept pace with online technology and multimodal devices, and a significant number of their students are not achieving national ICT Literacy proficiency standards. ‘Without modernising Indigenous education for the 21st century, teachers face a class of students who live in digital ghettos, are not enabled, whose age in web years are in single digits, and who remain a generation divided.’ (Rigney 2011 p 8). This growing digital divide / these new borders are the 21st century challenges today’s school leaders must address. Past management implementation practices has failed students and has increased the digital divide between indigenous and non-indigenous youth. This growing gap is a leadership issue. It must be addressed as a leadership problem.
Based on my professional observations and research, I point to the failure of education leaders to increase technology integrated within instruction. The computers may be in the schools but they are underemployed and when employed they were used as an add on. Essentially school leaders must address the employment of and skills to apply technology with learning in their schools. New Media Consortium (NMC) identifies the conflicting situation where schools urgently need to prepare students for an increasingly technologically leveraged world whilst provisioning through a teaching force that is inadequate in skill and application. Giving the teacher a laptop has not effected change as the lack of teachers’ digital competence correlates with student low use of technology in school (Johnson, Becker, Estrada, & Freeman 2015, p24). Access to the equipment is not enough. It takes mature age teachers to take on leadership responsibilities to recognise the need for and action change. It is too little too late, if the technological adaptation within schools falls onto graduate teachers as the tech savvy agents of change, and school leaders do not develop a theoretical based framework which enables capacity building of proficient and high achieving but non-technological literate teachers to proactively employ technology (Buchanan et al 2012).
On the whole, classrooms continue to have low-end intensity levels of technology application. This disconnect of employability within the curriculum, is brought about by an ignorance of the issue. Industrialized management mind-fixed on 20th century success based benchmarks engineers little impact. Technology’s impact within industry has been underestimated by school leaders and the teaching force and this gap between education and work requires urgent attention (CGMA 2014). Simply put, employability needs to be embedded within curriculum to ensure schools are prepared for the next wave of smart technologies emerging within industry. Curriculum must apply contextual technological  tools and skill based behaviours which are being adapted  within the 21st century workforce. School leaders must look forward to develop the skills required to develop the strategies to enable an augmented machine-human learning service. The second wave of intelligent technology must be addressed if the goal Every Student a Successful Learner goal can be attained. Whole of system 21st century school leaders who can transform schools are required if the Department can described its service as adaptive, proactive and innovative, and can successfully address the challenges of exponential technological change.

As Australian schools move into the future our services must become future focussed. We need leaders who can activate terms of change within what what will become an increasingly complex challenge. We need leaders who can argue for the need to change and question past practices that have either failed or about to fail. We need leaders who can push the boundaries as society pushes the boundaries. We need leaders who can disperse leadership and transition our schools into adaptive learning organisations. As Territorian leaders we  need to address the inequalities that are emerging within this second wave of technology. We as leaders, must diminish this digital divide and engage employability skills within the classroom. We as leaders, must endeavour to augment our classrooms and restructure the teacher student learning construct. We as leaders must address the challenges of an ever-changing environment. We as leaders must address the ever-changing environment. Schools need to become adaptive, proactive and innovative to approach the societal challenges of an ever-changing globalised nation.

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