In Chapter 6 of “Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary”, Januszewski and Molenda talks about the distinctions between management and leadership as keys to effective practice of educational technologists. In short, management is about planning, monitoring and controlling, while leadership is about setting direction, aligning, and motivating. While I agree with the distinctions, this is pretty much where I stopped agreeing with the text. The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about applying these functions in education through business model perspectives.
I don’t know about you, but I really have a hard time looking at education through that lens. Maybe it’s just because I’m looking at it from the perspective of a classroom teacher and not as an educational technology specialist, administrator, or business entrepreneur.
I once spent time at a company grading standardized tests, and I still can’t get over the feeling that we are going about education and technology the wrong way. Viewing students as products that must undergo processes of quality assurance really rubs me. Using business models is great for businesses, but not for education! Students–and learning–are not and should not be viewed as commodities. They are much too complex for that!
When we try to define something that has to do with education, it all has to go back to what we believe is its ultimate purpose. What is the purpose of learning? Given that answer, what then is the purpose of teaching? We can talk about the history, the legislative initiatives, etc., but I won’t go there. Everyone has his or her own ideas and beliefs on that, so instead I’ll stick to my own thoughts and try to work from there. As an educator, I personally believe that the ultimate purpose of learning is learning itself. Using the achievement ideology–teaching students that hard work and education will lead to upward social mobility– and training students for the national workforce is out-dated and short-sighted. We want students who can think for themselves, who understand that knowledge is empowering, and can use their skills and literacies to pursue and live meaningful lives.
Under this light, learning becomes an organic process. Students are seen as dynamic individuals, and effective teachers are those who understand this and proactively respond in ways that help shape their experiences for maximum learning. The ultimate purpose of teaching, then, is to fan our students’ inherent curiosity and love for learning alive. These type of teachers are great managers and leaders because they use pedagogy,methodologies, and technology in ways that are mostly learner-centered. And often times, learner-centered instruction are the messiest and most chaotic in classrooms and require adept handling of time, space, and resources.
To look at education (and the functions of teacher management and leadership) from a business model perspective, to me, is degrading. It implies that there is nothing more to teaching than following program scripts and regulations. Effective teaching, and hence effective management and leadership, is much much more than that.
“Compass…” by Leadership Training HeadQuarters
“Free New Life…” by Pink Sherbet Photography