A “mind the gap” moment

Don’t be deceived that all teachers are already skilled collaborators and co-workers. Much of our work looks like we do but have we fully grasped it as a way thinking as employees?

Most education as a work environment is still under the influence of the corporate-business administration model. My own masters degree is in educational leadership AND administration, which emphasised many of the approaches that shaped and succeeded in the corporate world. Some aspects of the courses challenged the relevance and appropriateness of these tools and strategies but genuine alternatives were thin on the ground. There is still a disconnect between leadership training to lead the business and the training to lead the learning. The first still belongs to commercial values and organisational structures and the later to the new pedagogies of collaboration, design thinking and collective construction of knowledge. Administration seeks order through systems and processes and the emerging educational paradigm seeks to create by disrupting and exploring new paths. I am yet to be convinced that teacher preparation courses are addressing this divide between the work of administration and teaching, let alone preparing teachers to be collaborative co-workers. If they do, it is still not enough and needs to go beyond the collaborative exercises of preparing a unit of work or the professional experience. What teachers need to know is how to work with other adults in a sustained, complex way.

In the past two weeks, I have spoken to many people not from the world of education but from businesses that either have a social impact focus or an enterprise focus (or both). Many are working independently or in small companies. As they move into more collaborative and activity-based ways of working, they are learning the skills and ways of working with other colleagues because they can see an immediate benefit to their work goals. I guess a key difference is that they are not having to work collaboratively within a huge range of externally imposed structures and constraints.

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