Ethical Issues for Research: A Reminder and Lessons From the 19th Century

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Back in the dark days of dangerous and unethical research, we had Dr Frankenstein doing bad things with his Monster… oh, wait. That wasn’t real. Sorry. However, in Christopher Edge’s (2015) book, “19th Century Fiction and Non-Fiction”, he reminds us of the very real undercurrent of what was definitely going on in the world of science at the time:

“In the 19th Century, the invention of electrical batteries allowed scientists to experiment with the power of electricity. The Italian scientist, Giovanni Aldini, performed a series of experiments in public where he applied electrical currents to the corpses of convicted criminals.”

Edge then goes on to provide an extract from reports of Aldini’s experiments that were carried out in 1803:

“A very ample series of experiments were made by Professor Aldini which show the eminent and superior power of galvanism beyond any other stimulant in nature. In the months of January and February last, he had the courage to apply it at Bologna to the bodies of various criminals who had suffered death at that place, and by means of the pile he excited the remaining vital forces in a most astonishing manner. This stimulus produced the most horrible contortions and grimaces by the motions of the muscles of the head and face; and an hour and a quarter after death, the arm of one of the bodies was elevated eight inches from the table on which it was supported, and this even when a considerable weight was placed in the hand.”

The report continues:

“George Forster was hung at 8am on 18th January 1803 at Newgate Prison, for the drowning of his wife and youngest child in the Paddington Canal. After hanging for an hour in sub-zero temperatures, Aldini procured the body and began his galvanic experiments.”

“On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion. Mr Pass, the beadle of the Surgeons’ Company, who was officially present during this experiment, was so alarmed that he died of fright soon after his return home.”

“The action even of those muscles furthest distant from the points of contact with the arc was so much increased as almost to give an appearance of re-animation vitality might, perhaps, have been restored, if many circumstances had not rendered it impossible.”

“Galvanism was communicated by means of three troughs combined together, each of which contained forty plates of zinc, and as many of copper. On the first application of the arcs the jaw began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and the left eye actually opened.”

“”The first of these decapitated criminals being conveyed to the apartment provided for my experiments, in the neighbourhood of the place of execution, the head was first subjected to the Galvanic action. For this purpose I had constructed a pile consisting of a hundred pieces of silver and zinc. Having moistened the inside of the ears with salt water, I formed an arc with two metallic wires, which, proceeding from the two ears, were applied, one to the summit and the other to the bottom of the pile. When this communication was established, I observed strong contractions in the muscles of the face, which were contorted in so irregular a manner that they exhibited the appearance of the most horrid grimaces. The action of the eye-lids was exceedingly striking, though less sensible in the human head than in that of an ox.””

Quick note to current would-be researchers: no, you cannot take home the heads of dead prisoners to your apartment and experiment on them. For one thing it’s just not hygienic. But of course so many other laws and ethical guidelines exist today that would rule out not only that, but most of what is described above to have taken place in the name of scientific research.

But, ok, you may argue that these research subjects were dead people, and criminals, with seemingly no rights perhaps. Obviously back then this remained unchallenged and even rights to a decent burial were apparently waivered due to the nature of the abhorrent crimes committed by the deceased. No one was there to fight for the rights of the decapitated one. Law was still evolving at the time, and deceased criminals were usually given over freely to science:

“Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. Those who were sentenced to dissection by the courts were often guilty of comparatively harsher crimes. Such sentences did not provide enough subjects for the medical schools and private anatomical schools (which did not require a licence before 1832). During the 18th century hundreds had been executed for trivial crimes, but by the 19th century only about 55 people were being sentenced to capital punishment each year. With the expansion of the medical schools, however, as many as 500 cadavers were needed annually” – read more on bodysnatching and grave robbing at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_snatching .

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In case you were wondering, “The Anatomy Act 1832 (2 & 3 Will. IV c.75) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that gave freer licence to doctors, teachers of anatomy and bona fide medical students to dissect donated bodies. It was enacted in response to public revulsion at the illegal trade in corpses” – again, read more about that at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_Act_1832 . And, note the use of the word ‘donated’. After 1832 it was only donated dead people that scientists were legally allowed to experiment on. Well, in the UK anyway.

But that’s just dead people. What about the living? Research ethics have also evolved over the last century. Some head-shaking cases that helped us to determine our moral compass on these matters included:

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By turns these experiments caused different kinds of outcries and resulted in a firming up of what is nowadays considered good ethical practice for research. Learning can essentially be reduced to the following guidelines:

  • Obtain informed consent from research participants – trickier with minors and definitely to be thoroughly gained with parents as well
  • Obtain permission and informed consent also from any relevant authorities or organisations, and those in positions of managerial responsibility
  • Obtain ethical approval from any university ethics committees required
  • Do not deceive any of them about the aims of your research
  • Fully explain the purpose of your research, what you are doing, how and why
  • Give all concerned the right to withdraw at any time
  • Fully assure participants of confidentiality and anonymity
  • Do not harm your research participants emotionally, psychologically, physically or otherwise
  • Offer to debrief participants after the research, to discuss what happened in depth if required
  • Offer to stay in touch and share contact details and results

On reflection, I don’t think Dr Frankenstein ever asked his Monster if he wanted to be brought to life. And I don’t think we can say there was no harm done there, on quite a few levels. So, yes, by today’s standards Dr Frankenstein’s research was definitely unethical. However, Mary Shelley did preserve the Monster’s identity and therefore provided anonymity by not giving him a name…

Then again, confidentiality was totally blown!

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PS: You can read lots more interesting accounts and reports of 19th century shenanigans in Christopher Edge’s book if you get hold of a copy. See e.g. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rollercoasters-19th-Century-Non-Fiction-Christopher-Edge/dp/0198357400 for more details.

Say yes to STEM & STEAM, but insist on liberal arts, philosophy, intellectualism and humanist education too

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Twitter’s @TheHopefulHT, Hannah Wilson, Head of UK @AureusSchool, recently blogged[i] on her journey into headship so far, developing their values-based leadership school ethos, and putting a vision of STEAM focused education into practice (all wrapped up with an emphasis on respect for rights and leveraging of female potential with a new wave, feminist edge).

When we say STEAM, we are of course talking modern day Leonardo Da Vinci, Hypatia and Marie Curie type education, seeking out, developing and nurturing the talent of scientifically creative genius to find solutions to today’s problems:

“STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!” [ii]

But why, specifically, is STEAM needed? Basically, argue leading advisers, for our economic survival: to “meet the needs of a 21st century economy[iii] A recent article published by Forbes explained the shift: “Work based skills are changing as more and more jobs are displaced by digital technologies […]with self-driving vehicles on the way, how many taxi, trucking, express delivery–and even aviation jobs–will go the way of the telephone switchboard operator? If history is a reliable guide, the technologies that are eliminating one set of jobs will create others: jobs that require twenty-first century—mainly digital—skills.  The explosion in industrial robotics, for example, is eliminating thousands of assembly line jobs but it is creating a demand for people who can design, manufacture, program and maintain those machines.  The questions are –  what will the net impact on jobs be and how well are our schools preparing young people for those new, higher skilled jobs as we head toward the fourth industrial revolution?[iv]

The UK it seems, may be taking the lead in confronting these issues head on right now. The Forbes article author, Nicholas Wyman, went on to put the UK on a pedestal, focused on Lord Baker’s current work: “According to Edge Foundation Chairman, Lord Kenneth Baker, “The U.K.’s future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise.” The Edge Foundation has released an 8 point plan of action in a manifesto called ‘The Digital Revolution’, elaborating how such a vision could be reached (click the link below to see the 8 point plan in the Forbes piece). Lord Baker was praised for his vision: ““Knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough,” says Lord Baker, “It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications ranging from engineering and IT to the performing, creative and culinary arts.  We need 21st education for a 21st century economy.””[v]

So Lord Baker puts knowledge in its place – it has one, but it doesn’t have primacy. Imagine then the embodiment of the product of the proposed needed education. My interpretation is that the successful 4 A star A Level student of tomorrow should be creatively and emotionally intelligent, with technical expertise and skill, entrepreneurial and switched on to real world problems: a sentient innovation machine, holding hands with the rest of the world. I implicitly link here to the concept of the 4th Industrial Revolution put forth by Schwab[vi].

My skeptical side doesn’t yet allow me to fully embrace this concept. It doesn’t sound fully convincing. It feels a bit too science fiction, abstracted from the gothic industrial realities of the inequality ridden world we currently inhabit. However, Schwab explains: “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”[vii]

So if this Fourth Industrial Revolution comes to fruition, we should be all be connected through our brains, bodies, gardens, vegetable patches, fridges, cars, computers and mobile phones as part of an Avatar movie style ecosystem. I’m not keen on that vision to be honest, are you? My cynical side imagines a dystopian interpretation, where the inequalities inherited by the system prevail, and a Borg like infrastructure takes advantage of talent for its own benefit – the rich and powerful still get more rich and powerful, and those at the bottom of the inequality heap just get used and abused for their ideas. Cogs in the machinealbeit more sophisticated cogs and a more sophisticated machine.

Schwab goes on to describe how this world of interconnectedness is taking shape: “Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest. Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests. Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

The Luddite in me wants to say stop. But can we? Is it too late? Is everything already too connected? Can we unplug and maintain cerebral independence, or is being part of the matrix the only way we will eventually be able to breathe? Or, is our only advantage to not just work hard with the creative side of the arts, but to fight back with the strength of the philosophical?

When the industrial revolution took place that we all know and love from our school history lessons, romantic poets, artists and philosophers fought back by placing an emphasis on the uncontrollable forces of nature – showing how minute and powerless humankind really is, and reminding us of the magnificent beauty of the thing that the industrial revolution was destroying. At the same time philosophers such as Karl Marx and Durkheim stepped us and gave us insights into the machinations of the workings of power and people behind this monumental takeover. In the same way, I’d argue that liberal arts, humanistic education is vital now to providing intellectual education and freedom of thought, as one way of still maintaining independence from the evolving Borg. In fact it might be the only way.

They might be able to matrix our bodies, but can they take our souls and minds? I conclude with a song: Manic Street Preachers, “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8szNPgrEs

Say yes to STEM and STEAM – but keep the intellectual edge. Empower our children with intellectualism. Insist on a curriculum with liberal arts, philosophy and independent humanism as well.

 

[i]https://womenedblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/the-power-of-steam/

[ii]https://educationcloset.com/steam/what-is-steam/

[iii]https://educationcloset.com/steam/what-is-steam/

[iv]https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholaswyman/2016/11/22/21st-century-education-for-a-21st-century-economy/#17c76c516cba

[v]https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholaswyman/2016/11/22/21st-century-education-for-a-21st-century-economy/#17c76c516cba

[vi]https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/

[vii]https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/

Is there a place for humility in leadership? What does it mean? #SLTChat

Thoughts on educational leadership and management this week

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First: “humility”. I used to be quite put off the subject domain of leadership as a taught subject when I was in my 20s. My disdain came from seeing largely what I perceived to be ego-driven individuals, beating their chests and proving their leadership potential by being the loudest voice in the room, or being able to down the most pints in an hour or having the funniest jokes to tell and being the life and soul of the party, or the cheekiest chappy at the bar. Although I can see why a lot of those kinds of behaviors command attention, and in some circles do gain popularity votes (especially after a sporting event perhaps), it leaves me wincing.  It also leaves a lot of people and their voices excluded too.

My personal preference was always for leaders of the Ghandi variety – or Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan, or Antonio Gutiérrez, for example. I also admired Mo Mowlam. And Tony Benn. People with principle, values and personal integrity. They all had something to say. None of them empty kettles. Unafraid to firmly fight their corner for what they believed in, but not necessarily by charismatic means. Their message shone through for the long term, grounded in much more than flimsy, popularist, vote winning behaviors.

Fittingly, the topic of “If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?” is debated by the Harvard Business Review at http://alturl.com/fn55t

However, on the other hand, false modesty of the Uriah Heep type (“humble, humble, very, very humble” – picture it being said while bowing slightly and accompanied by the wringing of hands), is not my cup of tea either.

So where can the balance be struck? How about by just being honest? Say it as it is. Speak with a sense of audience: deep theory for Einstein audiences, and practical application for practitioners perhaps. A judicious mix of both when appropriate and relevant? Give what’s needed as and when it’s required. If it’s relevant to mention that you are an Olympic gold medalist, don’t hold back! If that fact is worthy of being mentioned for some reason, do so.

For those who are struggling, the ‘Leadership Freak’ gives 12 tips for humility in practice this week at: https://leadershipfreak.blog/2017/12/03/secret-sauce-sunday-one-secret-from-five-world-class-leaders/

On another note, emotional intelligence. All would-be school leaders will benefit from developing theirs. Not for the dark side of evil manipulation, but in order to just treat people well as the human beings they are, with a view to all getting along and playing nicely, and effectively. For emo int beginners, 8 apps are recommended at http://www.thetechedvocate.org/8-must-emotional-intelligence-apps-tools/ – these are mainly aimed at younger learners but are good for all beginners!

In addition to any MA level education leadership and management course you might be on, the UK’s DfE runs the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) – find out more at  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-professional-qualification-for-headship-npqh – this will help make your journey to SLT and headship increasingly robust.

Finally, possibly one of the best tweets of the week, by John Tomsett, whose school has just achieved outstanding status by Ofsted (perhaps to be coupled with a light hearted musical note at http://alturl.com/aqtuj – just to keep Ofsted and regulatory bodies in perspective!):

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Educational Leadership Challenge: Developing a Vision, Values & a Paradigm, Theory Pick n Mix

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Webb, C. (2017)

As an educationalist and/or teacher who is interested in their own leadership development to add value within a school setting and for their own career advancement, you will have no doubt taken the time to have examined your own values and ideally worked out what leadership needs might be pertinent to a range of settings and permutations where your values might find a corresponding match. Alignment between your own values/vision and the organization and role you are in is a powerful thing and not to be ignored. It can make for a very uncomfortable experience all round if you haven’t got it right.

One way you could take this a step further is to consider a range of education or learning paradigms, theories, models, tools and approaches and to explore which of these correspond with your own values and educational vision and preferences. You might also think about and work out what leadership styles, theories and models might fit with each of these and vice versa. Would some be out of place and create disharmony with an overall vision based on particular values?

In the education market place there is diversity a plenty and lots of opportunity to deliver a variety of niche offerings. So here’s an interesting exercise. If you were to set up, for example, a UK ‘Free School’ (supported by sponsors and more or less independent), what educational paradigm would you base it on in alignment with your own vision and values? What learning theories and models would also be in alignment? What tools, methods an approaches would be in sync? What wouldn’t?

Below (David, 2017) is a list of education/learning theories and paradigms, tools, methods, approaches, etc, taken from information presented at https://www.learning-theories.com/ – it’s a great starting point from which to begin piecing together your school vision jigsaw puzzle. Take some time to refresh yourself as to what all these mean and represent, along with implications for practice. Then see if you can rise to the challenge. What would you pick and mix for your own free school? Vision, values, philosophy, paradigm, approaches, tools, methods, theories, etc….

Paradigms

Constructivist, Social and Situational Theories

Descriptive & Meta Theories

Child Development Theories

Mental Models

Behaviorist Theories

Motivation & Humanist Theories

Identity Theories

Miscellaneous Learning Theories & Models

Guides, Reviews and Learning Tools

Cognitivist Theories

Design Theories & Models

Media & Technology Theories

 

 

References:

 

David L, “Summaries of Learning Theories and Models,” in Learning Theories, June 30, 2017, https://www.learning-theories.com/.

 

Analysing & Identifying Personal Educational Leadership Needs: Aspects to Research and Tools to Help Analyse #SLTChat #WomenEd @WomenEd

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Analysing & Identifying Personal Educational Leadership Needs: Aspects to Research and Tools to Help Analyse

Webb, C. (2017).

Before you analyse your own leadership needs, you will need to understand what is required of a school (or other educational establishment) leader. This assumes that you have read widely on the topic (blogs, books, journal papers, policy documents and school guidelines), and researched and considered the different models and theories of leadership and applied them to your local school context in the country you are working in and any relevant policies and expectations according to school ethos, vision and values.

You might have also taken the time to research what is required for particular leadership roles by evaluating job advertisements and working out what you are still missing in your own personal profile that would allow you to get that next leadership position. You might have also reflected on role model leaders you have worked with or are working with now. All of the above should give you an idea of what is required of someone in a role of school leadership.

You might also have factored in your own experience in a leadership position and already know roughly what areas for development you currently have – perhaps such a list might be derived from considering your on-the-job effectiveness and relationships with others, or based on previous performance appraisals and feedback from others.

Perhaps you are also considering eventually pursuing other goals and you know that each of these in turn will present needs for your own development in order to reach those goals. If you have worked out that your current setting is not for you due to a mismatch in values, perhaps identify the need to investigate schools where you might be more at home. This also assumes you know your own values and have analysed those against your school (see further below for tools to help you analyse your values).

Once you’ve done this legwork you’ll need to go beyond a level of description, and analyse. You might use a range of tools to do this thoroughly, and then be able to derive a list of simplified needs by using these tools.

One quick and easy way to assess, analyse and identify your own personal leadership needs is by using the well-known SWOT analysis tool. The image below (found at https://creativelead.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/swot-analysis/) is an example of how one student did this.

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Once you have used the SWOT tool in this way, you can create SMART goals to focus on each weakness and threat through targets related to your own continual personal development (CPD) plan (e.g. one former Headteacher told me that when she first stepped into her role she was weak on financial management skills – having identified this she quickly made plans to address this need and obtained training to help her plug this gap). See a step by step guide on how to create your own SMART goals at https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals. You can do something similar with opportunities, and feed these into next steps on how to make use of opportunities. Equally, you should seek to create targets to maximize your strengths, perhaps factoring in networking, seeking out organisations that match your values, and job search activities. You might also consider sharing your strengths with others in the form of volunteering to delivery CPD sessions, writing blogs, books or papers and speaking at conferences.

From these SMART goals you could then create a Gantt chart to schedule in all your mini personal development targets, goals and plans, perhaps over the short, mid and long term (1year, 5 years, and 10 years). See https://www.ablebits.com/office-addins-blog/2014/05/23/make-gantt-chart-excel/ for some simple tips on how to create a Gantt chart.

Another tool you might use is the ‘Least Preferred Coworker’ scale, based on Fiedler’s Contingency Model. This will help you find out your so-called ‘natural leadership style’. See https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fiedler.htm to find out more about it and instructions on how to use it yourself.

Another online tool at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_50.htm also helps you to think about and assess your leadership skills in order to analyse personal needs.

You can also search online for lots of other leadership tests and quizzes that will help you to reflect on your own leadership skills and styles. It’s up to you to reflect on the value of these and to apply your own critical evaluation of how effective these tools are however.

Some of these might include, for example:

In addition to the above, and as hinted already, you should be aware of your own values – you should really know these before you do any SWOT or other kind of leadership style analysis. ‘Te Ipsum Nosce’ – Latin for ‘Know Yourself’. Some online tools that allow you to explore and reflect on your own values include the following (you might know some better ones though!):

Once you’ve identified your core values and what’s important to you, it’s time to look around and see if your values fit with your current working environment. Are you where you need to be or do you need to look for a better fit elsewhere? Can you try to find somewhere that values the same things as you do? In educational terms this might mean linking to schools that focus on humanist education, for example, or, perhaps a ‘no excuses’ school – it depends entirely on what you personally esteem, value and hold as beliefs. On the other hand, are you in a position of influence or leadership where you might feed your values through into your current establishment so as to seek to change your school vision, rather than you feeling as though you have to just leave your current school?

A final challenge, once you’ve got the above all wrapped up: can you ask yourself if you can articulate your own personal vision? What is your leadership vision? What would be your school vision if you got to decide? What steps do you need to take to make this reality? What changes might need to occur before your school vision was how you think it should be? What mission do you need to reach the vision? Does your vision match that of your current school? Are you in the right place? …

 

The Shape of Education Policy in the Gulf: Impacts of the Economic Imperative Coming from the Regional and International GCC Level

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Notes on the Shape of Education Policy in the Gulf: Impacts of the Economic Imperative Coming from the Regional and International GCC Level

Webb, C. (2017).

An international, regional cauldron of culture, economic survival, sustainability, and growth imperatives are arguably some of the strongest identifying features that have to be taken into account when understanding the context of education in the UAE. The UAE cannot be understood without considering its political interdependency within the GCC. A brief introduction to the GCC highlighting some of the complexities of this context can be understood loosely as follows (Wikipedia, 2017):

 “The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf […] originally (and still colloquially) known as the Gulf Cooperation Council is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[2][3] The Charter of the Gulf Cooperation Council was signed on 25th May 1981, formally establishing the institution.[4] All current member states are monarchies, including three constitutional monarchies (Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain),[5][6] two absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Oman), and one federal monarchy (the United Arab Emirates, which is composed of seven member states, each of which is an absolute monarchy with its own emir). There have been discussions regarding the future membership of Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen.[7][8] A 2011 proposal to transform the GCC into a “Gulf Union” with tighter economic, political and military coordination has been advanced by Saudi Arabia, a move meant to counterbalance the Iranian influence in the region.[9][10] Objections have been raised against the proposal by other countries.[11][12] In 2014, Bahrain prime minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said that current events in the region highlighted the importance of the proposal.[13] In order to reduce their dependence on oil in the future, the GCC states are pursuing unprecedented structural reform initiatives.[14]

The above summary should no doubt be updated in light of current political issues and conflicts which add insight to the contextual complexity.

Structural reform also includes the economy and education of course. In the advent of the post-oil economy, GCC member states are pushed to seek a diversity of ways in which they can continue to maintain and/or develop a strong economic foundation and sustainability for future growth. Subsidies derived from the oil economy have been spread among GCC countries, also seeking to strategically develop and achieve objectives in the education sector:

“The subsidy system in the GCC countries has evolved over the years within the broad objectives of distributing the oil wealth to the population and supporting private sector economic activity. Together with other protective policies, subsidies benefiting both consumers and producers have aimed at ensuring low and stable prices for essential foodstuffs and basic services, achieving social objectives in the health and education areas, and promoting basic industries and supporting specific sectors for strategic reasons (e.g., food production for security reasons) (IMF, 2017)”

This source of funding for education obviously has impact on shaping the nature of education within the region. The goal behind education in the GCC can therefore be primarily identified as economic sustainability and development. Wiseman et al (2012) focus on ICT used in education channeled towards innovation. However, the paper is also underpinned by the commonly held belief and acceptance that “formal mass education can be used to advance socio-political and economic agendas” in the GCC region. They also highlight the challenges and limitations imposed by the cultural context for education in the Gulf.

Further evidence that the GCC, as elsewhere in the world, sees education a principal means to further its economic agenda is discussed by Maroun et (2008): “In the past several years, many developing nations, but especially Arab countries, have come to identify a good education system as a cornerstone of economic progress. The urgency for education reform in the Arab world has been manifested in the various initiatives aimed at improving the quality and quantity of education, especially with a rising young population that represents a majority in many countries of the Arab world. Recent years have witnessed many Arab countries making efforts to develop and implement comprehensive education reform programs that can result in a skilled, knowledge-based workforce in line with socioeconomic goals”.

Al-Yousif (2008) notes the relation between education expenditure as a proxy for human capital and economic growth in the six GCC economies and focuses on the need to understand the complex relationship between education and economic growth, where human capital (humans recognized for their value in terms of skills and knowledge) is given precedence.

It’s not surprising therefore to find that national strategic policy on UAE education has channeled the economic and human capital imperative into its own educational policy at the broad level. The impact of this has been the vision set out by the Ministry of Education (MoE) – “MoE aims to prepare a human workforce that effectively contributes in accomplishing sustainable development while being globally competitive” (AE Government, 2017) – filtering down into regional education authorities, school level leadership, and the way schools have been led and inspected, based on related criteria, e.g. Dubai Government explains with respects to education:

“The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which was set up in 2006, is tasked with upgrading Dubai’s educational knowledge and human development segments according to the highest international standards and leading Dubai to a knowledge-based economy” (Smart Government Dubai, 2017).

The language and rhetoric seems heavily biased towards economic values, rather than a set of humanistic values. Although individual school leaders and teachers may hold their own educational and personal values detached from the economic-educational agenda, I would argue that the overriding context of the country and GCC region dictates the implicit values ahead of any explicit values held by individuals in the system. Unless the values at national policy level were seen to change radically in the UAE, there will continue to be cognitive dissonance and values based conflict in school leadership styles at all levels. For example, an economic driven education system might all too easily fall foul of transactional and top down, hierarchical leadership styles, whereas individuals employed as economic units in schools may hold individual, humanistic values and beliefs about preferred organizational structures, styles, working and educational values that are at odds with such transactionally based and economically driven systems.

This can bring levels of discomfort and discord for all concerned, perhaps more so where there is a perceived culture clash between so-called “Western concepts” and the “the idea of education as the preparation for good citizenship, self-discovery, and self-fulfillment”, which, says Weber (2011)  “are being re-examined in light of national education priorities” and is causing him to “speculate on the current and future role of education within the context of the knowledge economies of MENA and the Arabian Gulf”.

At the moment, however, school leadership in the UAE is arguably a juggling act between the regional, international economic imperative of education, performance measured by local regulatory bodies, and the need to manage and lead a culturally and internationally diverse staff team, whose values may be radically at odds with the system, which could, however, be moving towards a shift in values. What leadership styles, approaches, models and theories may be best suited to this context then? Could the challenge of leadership be summarized as ‘Complex cultural and educational system ideological conflict leadership and management’? In this case, culture means values and diversity, plurality of values and ideological beliefs about education, and the educational ideological conflict that causes us to conceptually wrestle between the humanistic and the economic imperatives of education.

Find out more information about UAE and Dubai Education policies, systems, vision and legislation at some of the following links:

https://government.ae/en/information-and-services/education/school-education-k-12/regulatory-authorities-of-k-12-education

http://dubai.ae/en/Lists/Topics/DispForm.aspx?ID=3&category=Home

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates

http://www.dubaifaqs.com/ministry-of-education-uae.php

http://www.uaecd.org/special-education

http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/education/dubai-has-16-outstanding-schools-1.2028262

Bibliography:

AE Government (2017), “Regulatory authorities of K-12 education”, in Government.ae – The Official Portal of the UAE Government. Accessed online at https://government.ae/en/information-and-services/education/school-education-k-12/regulatory-authorities-of-k-12-education

Al-Yousif, Y. K. (2008). Education Expenditure and Economic Growth: Some Empirical Evidence from the GCC Countries. The Journal of Developing Areas 42(1), 69-80. Tennessee State University College of Business. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from Project MUSE database. Accessed online at https://muse.jhu.edu/article/251998/summary

IMF (International Monetary Fund) (2017), ‘Policy Challenges in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries’- IV. Policy Issues and a Medium-Term Adjustment Strategy, accessed online at https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/policy/4issues.htm

Maroun, N., Samman, H., Moujaes, C. N., and Abouchakra, R. (2008), ‘OVERVIEW OF EDUCATION IN THE GCC REGION,’ In How to Succeed at Education Reform: The Case for Saudi Arabia and the Broader GCC Region, in ‘Ideation Center Insight’, accessed online at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Chadi_Moujaes/publication/228418122_How_to_Succeed_at_Education_Reform_The_Case_for_Saudi_Arabia_and_the_Broader_GCC_Region/links/00b4951a3b02d6aa16000000/How-to-Succeed-at-Education-Reform-The-Case-for-Saudi-Arabia-and-the-Broader-GCC-Region.pdf

Smart Government Dubai (2017), “Knowledge Based Economy” in Government of Dubai: Education web pages, accessed online at http://dubai.ae/en/Lists/Topics/DispForm.aspx?ID=3&category=Home

Wikipedia (2017), ‘Gulf Cooperation Council’ – online article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Cooperation_Council

Wiseman, A. W., Anderson, E. (2012), ‘ICT-integrated education and national innovation systems in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’, in Computers & Education, Volume 59, Issue 2, September 2012, Pages 607-618, accessed online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131512000565

 

Educational Leaders: Do you know where your policies come from at the global and international level? by @DrCWebbBAPhD #SLTChat

Woman holding earth front of blackboard

Global and International Education Policy Bodies, Makers & Documents: A Brief Overview & Starting Points for Further Research for Educational Leaders

Webb, C. (2017).

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

As a leader in education, do you know where you’re coming from? What about the policies you have to adopt and implement in your local setting? Where do they come from and what is their value? Are they really all they are cracked up to be or have you been duped? As a current or aspiring educational leader and manager, it’s not only important to know about and understand policies in order to implement them, but it’s also important to retain a critical view of where they originated and how they came to be adopted by international, national, and regional/local decision makers. After reading some of the critical sources and reviews available, it’s not difficult to see yourself at one extreme as a pawn in a global economic game of education policy persuasion and salesmanship. Nevertheless, the context you work in may still require you to navigate and selectively, rationally, implement aspects of some policy, and give you leeway to perhaps not adopt others, or perhaps to do so creatively in line with the vision of your own school and in harmony with your values. Below is a collection of insightful “thunks” taken as quotes from an exceptional paper by Verger:

Verger, A. (2014),  Current  Issues  in  Comparative  Education,  Teachers  College,  Columbia  University.  Current Issues in Comparative Education 16 (2), 14-­‐‑29. Accessed from the internet at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/cice/pdf/33064_16_2_Antoni_Verger.pdf

Verger asserts that “Taking ideas more seriously implies having to pay more attention to the carriers of these ideas, and tracking the policy networks they constitute (cf. Ball, 2012; Vavrus & Bartlett, 2009). It also implies having a better understanding of how policy entrepreneurs introduce new policy ideas in global education agendas, and frame and disseminate them across different fields, organizations, and regions (cf. Grek et al., 2009; Verger, 2012). It also requires us to have in-depth knowledge of the particular contexts in which these ideas are being adopted, as a way to capture how multiple contextual contingencies operate in a strategically selective way by favoring certain actors, ideas, and discourses over others (cf. Hay, 2002)” (Verger 2014).

Global – what is going on among the key players at global level in reference to policy making, decision making and policy adoption?

Theoretical starting points and key issues as suggested by Verger:

–          World Society Theory: “argues that the ‘education institution’, as we know it, has spread around the world as part of the diffusion of a culturally embedded model of the modern nation-state. According to this theory, a range of common education policies (but also health, fiscal policies, etc.) have been adopted around the planet as the result of both the international dissemination of the values of western modernity as well as the legitimation pressures that governments receiveespecially in postcolonial settings – to demonstrate to the international community that they are building a ‘modern state’” (Meyer et al., 1997 – in Verger 2014).

–          Globally Structured Education Agenda (GSEA): “the GSEA sees the world capitalist economy as the driving force of globalisation and as the main causal source of the profound transformations manifested in the education arena today (Dale, 2000). This approach stresses that most significant educational changes we witness today should be understood as being embedded within interdependent local, national and global political economy complexes. International financial organizations are key agents in this multi-scalar scenario due to their agenda setting capacities; among other things, they define what the main problems are that member-states should address if they want to successfully integrate into an increasingly globalized and competitive knowledge-economy” (Verger 2014).

–          Micro case studies: highlight “divergence that prevails in global education policy processes”, and show that “global policy ideas are constantly and actively reinterpreted and modified by a range of political actors that operate at a range of scales – including the national and the local – according to their own symbolic frames and institutional settings” (Verger 2014).

–          Reasons why countries adopt global policies: “It is well documented that many countries – especially developing countries – adopt global policies and programs because they are externally imposed on them via aid conditionality or binding international agreements. However, more and more often, policy-makers adopt global policies in an apparently voluntary way (Dale, 2005). When this happens, dynamics of persuasion, discursive selectivity, and generation of meaning become more central as factors of policy change” (Verger 2014).

–          The trend of educational privatization in developing countries:

o   “In developing countries, the prevailing developmental paradigm, the so-called Post-Washington Consensus, is especially conducive to privatization measures, as it encourages governments to explore non-bureaucratic ways of coordinating economic and social activities and to create an environment that favors the private sector acquiring a more dynamic role in economic and societal issues (Van Waeyenberge, 2006),” (Verger 2014).

o   “neoliberalism and related policy discourses have become hegemonic, and form a sort of commonsensical global framework, contributes to the belief in many countries of the world of the inherent superiority of the private sector, or the goodness of performance-based incentives and choice shaping the parameters of education reforms (Carney, 2009; Taylor et al., 2000),” (Verger 2014).

–          Rationalist policy adoption: “In terms of policy adoption, rationalism would expect local policy-makers to select certain global policies because such policies work or have worked well elsewhere. Thus, policymakers would be construed as well-informed rational actors that choose internationally tested policy solutions to improve the outcomes of their education systems” but “rational choice or methodological individualism are far from being dominant approaches” (Verger 2014).

–          The role of persuasion: “In comparative and international education studies, some scholars are focusing on the dynamics of promotion of, and persuasion regarding, global policy ideas  (Grek et al., 2009; Ball, 2012; Resnik, 2012; Olmedo, 2013). Many of them focus on how a range of international organizations, knowledge brokers, and policy entrepreneurs try to convince governments of what are the key problems that they need to address and the most effective policy solutions (Steiner-Khamsi, 2012a). Researchers in this specific area observe that global policy ideas do not necessarily become influential because of their inherent quality and rigor, but because of the promotional and framing strategies of the experts backing them (Verger, 2012). In fact, many policy entrepreneurs predispose policy-makers to consider their proposals by making them look like they are scientifically supported, or aligned with ‘international good practices’ and ‘international standards’ (Edwards Jr., 2013)” (Verger 2014).

–          Large organisations carrying higher persuasive weight: “To most constructivists, the symbolic and economic capitals of the organizations backing new policy ideas impact significantly on the social perception and credibility of these ideas. It is noteworthy that the most successful policy entrepreneurs are usually based in international organizations, such as the World Bank or the OECD, that are located at the interstices of a range of influential policy networks. These organizations provide them with sufficient resources to package and disseminate their ideas effectively as well as the channels to directly access key policy-makers in their member-states (Campbell, 2004)” (Verger 2014).

–          Perception of decision makers: “constructivists assume, counter to the rationalist assumption, that policy-makers do not have perfect information when making their policy choices and that, in fact, their knowledge on education policy matters is likely to be impressionistic and incomplete (Hay, 2001). In general, according to them, global policies are not widely adopted because they are the best (or even a good) choice, but because they are perceived as such by key decision-makers” (Verger 2014).

–          Sophisticated policy salesmanship: Campbell’s (2004) “work theorizes on how different types of ideas, such as policy paradigms, programs, frames, and public sentiments, which interpellate to very different domains of reality (the micro and the macro, the normative and the policy-oriented), interact in processes of institutional change. Paraphrasing him, new policy proposals will be more likely to penetrate education systems if entrepreneurs can present them in a way that appears to translate well into the prevailing national or regional regulatory framework and policy paradigm, and into the normative sentiments of decision-makers and key stakeholders” (Verger 2014).

–          Complex decisive processes involved in education privatization reforms: assess any educational setting in the context and against national and/or regional government ideology, administrative and regulatory viability, political institutions, domestic political contention, and periods of crises (Verger 2014). See Verger’s full article to find examples of how to do this.

If, like me, you read the above points and felt the need to re-empower yourself to see how we may be being manipulated by global economic forces, you will need to do more digging to see how relevant international policy making bodies work, and what they have decided that then filters down into practice in your own school setting. Below is a list of the most influential international policy making bodies with links to find out more.

International

UNESCO and the International Institute for Educational Planning. UNESCO in particular advocates for universal ideals and human rights in the underpinning values of their education publications and programmes, e.g. through the EFA (Education for All) Goals. See in particular https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-21st-century and http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/resources/publications/

OECD – see e.g. http://www.oecd.org/education/

The World Bank – see e.g. http://www.worldbank.org/en/research and World Development Report 2018 at http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018

The UN (see specifically millennium development goals focused on education, as well as UN statistics pertaining to education in general) – another starting point is to go to the UN iLibrary and search on ‘education’ at http://www.un-ilibrary.org/

The WTO (World Trade Organisation) – e.g. see education specific documents in the WTO online document library http://tinyurl.com/yasyytp9

The SOROS Foundation –  see e.g. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/issues/education-youth

Save the Children – see e.g. http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.9318871/k.37A8/Education__Child_Protection_Technical__Policy_Resources.htm

Global Partnership for Education, and the Fast Track Initiative – see http://www.globalpartnership.org/

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement – see http://www.iea.nl/

PISA/TIMSShttp://www.oecd.org/pisa/ and https://nces.ed.gov/timss/

European Standards – see a range of starting points, including:

After you have researched and analysed the above policy making bodies and initiatives, you will need to cross reference your findings with major legislation and national and international constitutions that have impact in your own country, region, locality and setting, to see how the international and global policies have been interwoven, adapted and domesticated. It would then be useful to explain their impact and what kind of leadership their implementation and adoption may require in your own setting. An easy starting point for that would be your own country’s department for education, relevant inspection bodies, brought together with school improvement plans and vision/mission statements. Consider the political ideologies that underpin all of the above and how political changes can cause a shift in policy and leadership required.

Bibliography

Adrião, T., Garcia, T., Borghi, R., & Arelaro, L. (2009). Uma Modalidade Peculiar de Privatizacão Da Educacão Pública: a Aquisicão de‘ Sistemas de Ensino’ Por Municípios Paulistas. Educacão & Sociedade, 30(108), 799–818.

Atasay, E., & Delavan, G. (2012). Monumentalizing disaster and wreak-construction: a case study of Haiti to rethink the privatization of public education. Journal of Education Policy 27(4), 529-553.

Ball, S. J. (2012). Global Education Inc.: New Policy Networks and the Neoliberal Imaginary. NY: Routledge.

Buras, K. L. (2013). ‘We’re not going nowhere’: race, urban space, and the struggle for King Elementary School in New Orleans. Critical Studies in Education 54(1), 19-32.

Campbell, J. L. (2004). Institutional Change and Globalisation. Princeton: Princeton UP.

Carney, S. (2009), Negotiating Policy in an Age of Globalisation: Exploring Educational “Policyscapes” in Denmark, Nepal, and China. Comparative Education Review, 53, (1), 63-88.

Dale, R. (2000). Globalisation and Education: Demonstrating a “common world educational culture” or locating a “globally structured educational agenda”’? Educational Theory, 50(4), 427-448.

Dale, R. (2005). Globalisation, knowledge economy and comparative education. Comparative Education, 41, (2), 117-149.

Edwards Jr, D. B. (2013). International Processes of Education Policy Formation: An Analytic Framework and the Case of Plan 2021 in El Salvador. Comparative Education Review 57 (1), 22–53.

Grek, S., Lawn, M., Lingard, B., Ozga, J., Rinne, R., Segerholm, C., & Simola, H. (2009). National Policy Brokering and the Construction of the European Education Space in England, Sweden, Finland and Scotland. Comparative Education 45 (1), 5–21.

Hay, C. (2001). The “Crisis” of Keynesianism and the Rise of Neoliberalism in Britain: An Ideational Institutional Approach. In Campbell, J. L., and O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), The Rise of Neoliberalism and Institutional Analysis (pp. 193-218). Princeton University Press.

Ho, M. S. (2006). The Politics of Preschool Education Vouchers in Taiwan. Comparative Education Review, 50(1), 66-89.

Kjaer, P., & Pedersen, O.K. (2001). Translation liberalization: Neoliberalism in the Danish negotiated economy. In J. L. Campbell and O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), The Rise of Neoliberalism and Institutional Analysis (pp. 219-248). Princeton University Press.

Klitgaard, M. B. (2008). School Vouchers and the New Politics of the Welfare State. Governance, 21(4), 479–498.

Komatsu, T. (2013). Why do policy leaders adopt global education reforms? A political analysis of School Based Management reform adoption in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21(62)

Maroy, C. (2012). Towards Post-Bureaucratic Modes of Governance: A European Perspective. In G. Steiner-Khamsi and F. Waldow (Eds.). World Yearbook of Education 2012: Policy Borrowing and Lending in Education (pp. 62-79). NY: Routledge.

Meyer, J.W., Boli, J., Thomas, G.M. and Ramirez, F. O. (1997). World Society and the NationState. The American Journal of Sociology, 103(1), 144–181

Olmedo, A. (2013). Policy-makers, Market Advocates and Edu-businesses: New and Renewed Players in the Spanish Education Policy Arena. Journal of Education Policy, 28 (1), 55–76.

Resnik, J. (2012). The Transformation of Education Policy in Israel. In G. Steiner-Khamsi and F. Waldow (Eds.). World Yearbook of Education 2012: Policy Borrowing and Lending in Education (pp. 264-290). New York: Routledge.

Srivastava, P. (2010). Privatization and Education for All: Unravelling the mobilizing frames. Development. 53(4), 522–528.

Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2012a). For All by All? The World Bank’s Global Framework for Education. In S. J. Klees, J. Samoff & N.P. Stromquist. The World Bank and Education: Critiques and Alternatives (pp. 3-20). Rotterdam: Sense.

Taylor, S., & Henry, M. (2000). Globalisation and educational policymaking: A case study. Educational Theory, 50 (4), 487–503.

Van Waeyenberge, E. (2006). From Washington to post-Washington consensus. In B. Fine (Ed.) The New Development Economics: After the Washington Consensus (pp. 21–46). London: Zed Books.

Vavrus, F. K., & Bartlett, L. (2009). Critical approaches to comparative education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Verger, A. (2012). Framing and selling global education policy: the promotion of PPPs in education in low-income countries. Journal of Education Policy, 27(1), 109–130.

Verger, A. (2014),  Current  Issues  in  Comparative  Education,  Teachers  College,  Columbia  University.  Current Issues in Comparative Education 16 (2), 14-­‐‑29. Accessed from the internet at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/cice/pdf/33064_16_2_Antoni_Verger.pdf on 17/11/17

 

Some other top papers to read and dig into on this topic include:

Burnett, M. (2014). International Education Policies, Issues, and Challenges, in International Development Policy, Issue 5, 2014. Accessed online at https://poldev.revues.org/1770

Peterson, P., Baker, E., McGaw, B. (2010). International Encyclopedia of Education. Third Edition. Elsevier. Available via Science Direct at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/referenceworks/9780080448947 (login using Middlesex Uni / Athens account and click on article titles to see complete A-Z listing of all encyclopedia entries as individual PDF files.

Ridge, N., Kippels, S., Shami, S. (2016), “Economy, Business and First Class: The Implications of For-Profit Education Provision in the UAE”, Chapter 16 in “World Yearbook of Education 2016: The Global Education Industry”, by Verger, A., Lubienski, C, and Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2016), Routledge: Oxon.  Accessed from the internet at https://books.google.ae/books?id=e7VYCwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=ar&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Also of note in the same book (World Yearbook of Education 2016) is chapter 1: ‘The Emergence and Structuring of the Global Education Industry’, by Verger, A., Lubienski, C, and Steiner-Khamsi, G. – talks about the GEI (global education industry) being shaped by public policy making.

Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2004). The Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending. Teachers College Press. Partial EBook available online at https://books.google.ae/books?id=s4y4DgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=ar&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Verger, A. (2014),  Current  Issues  in  Comparative  Education,  Teachers  College,  Columbia  University.  Current Issues in Comparative Education 16 (2), 14-­‐‑29. Accessed from the internet at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/cice/pdf/33064_16_2_Antoni_Verger.pdf

Winthrop, R. (2016). “US leadership in global education: The time is now”. Brookings. Accessed online at https://www.brookings.edu/research/us-leadership-in-global-education-the-time-is-now/

 

What kind of uni lecturer do you want to be? My top ten mission statement tips 


In terms of uni life, as a student I did a year at Durham, 3 years at UCL, 3 years at Cranfield and two years part time at Derby. Throughout that time I was blessed with mostly approachable and helpful lecturers. If you had a question, and they had time, they would help you. There were only the rare one or two that were standoffish without time for you, or stiff and starchy, office bound. 

The best ones were the most human. They were just able to relate to you because they seemed to understand you because they saw themselves the same as you. They seemed to have empathy and just wanted to help. 
They weren’t necessarily the best dressed. They didn’t necessarily have the best set of teeth or hairstyle. 
They were just helpful. 
They might have had good humour but weren’t necessarily stand up comedians. 
They didn’t always have amazing PowerPoint slides or videos but they often made you stop and think. 
They were not ego tripping superstars, but part of your journey: strangers on the road of life that had things to say and make you pause for thought in order to develop yours. 
Sometimes they wore sandals with socks. Sometimes a trendy leather jacket. Sometimes they had done their research in remote, far away almost other planet places that left you with wide mouthed wonder, thinking “where is that?!”
They rarely told you the answers, but rather said something that caused you to go away and think or do something yourself. 
They sometimes entered into richly rewarding yet ephemeral email conversations. They sometimes met you in the uni cafeteria for an essay feedback chat. 
And they always left you with more to do. 
All in all my experiences left me mostly with warm, enjoyable memories. 
A year or so ago I walked past a UCL lecturer who co edited the Oxford Classical Dictionary. I think I was in the London Underground. It took me a moment to place him mentally. I shouted hello after him and he turned and shouted a cheery, smiley hello back, as if he was possibly used to that from students past and present. It made me smile. I don’t think he remembered me. 
I remembered his uni office – his classroom really. Floor to ceiling books on every wall. A table for about 10 students in the middle, in front of his desk. I did a year one class with him on History of the Mediterranean World I think it was called, covering 800-500 BC. It surprised me that he gave us a list of corrections on the front of essay feedback sheets, including grammatical errors. Apart from that we’d get roughly a paragraph of qualitative feedback. I was always quite in awe of him with his prestigious Oxford background and Dictionary writing fame. And one day he stopped in his tracks and told me, when I was having a moment of low confidence, “I think highly of your work”. I was quite taken aback, but it was a turning point. Just those few words gave me such a boost. I put in more effort and was determined to do even better after that. I left glowing. 
On the other hand, moments of demoralisation induced by other lecturers later on included being informed by a quick written scrawl, without any further comment, “not very insightful”. When I went to find out more I didn’t even get eye contact, just a few mumbled words and dismissively ignored while the lecturer carried on working at their computer. I realised I wasn’t going to learn much on that occasion, which therefore felt like a waste of time having gone to the trouble in the first place. 
So what I guess I’ve learned and what I’d like to be in my lecturer mission statement is the following:
1. Be approachable 
2. Be human

3. Be warm and friendly if circumstances allow

4. Give help 

5. Make students think

6. Give them something to do

7. Meet in cafes if possible, not just the office 

8. Be encouraging 

9. Build confidence 

10. Be supportive 

Endorsing Gender Ethical Companies. Boycotting & Sanctioning / Putting Pressure on the Rest #womened 

The BBC just published news on rankings of companies with female representation at board level. See http://www.bbc.com/news/business-41914806 for more info. 
In line with previous blog posts and tweets, I’d like to suggest women start voting with their feet in order to encourage good behaviour all round and put pressure on for change – especially since the WEF gender gap report shows a negative trend this year (things have actually got worse for women globally in 2017). This means seeking out products and consumer choice, business / research / Edu partnering with those companies and organisations who conform to our gender ethics, and boycotting and sanctioning those who do not. 
So, according to the latest BBC highlighted rankings mentioned above, the top ten companies and organisations to endorse and promote this week are:
Highest ranked FTSE 100 firms for women on boards and in leadership

1. Next

2. Severn Trent

3. Diageo

4. Whitbread

5. Kingfisher

6. Merlin Entertainments

7. Old Mutual

8. GlaxoSmithKline

9. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust

10. Intercontinental Hotels Group
And the bottom 10 to avoid, boycott and sanction might be: 
Lowest ranked FTSE 100 firms for women on boards and in leadership

100. London Stock Exchange Group

99. Mediclinic International

98. Segro

97. Glencore

96. Prudential

95. Fresnillo

94. Smurfit Kappa Group

93. Antofagasta

92. Babcock International

91. International Consolidated Airlines Group

90. Paddy Power Betfair
These guys need to try harder. It’s time for women to use gender ethical decision making for all products, services and commercial endorsement through purchase, partnering or employment. 

My Dream Ofsted: Carlsberg don’t do school inspections, but if they did…

landing-subhero-progress-toward-equality

To coin an advertising phrase borrowed from the beverage industry, ‘Carlsberg don’t do school inspections, but if they did…” – what would your ideal version of Ofsted look like? How would your dream Ofsted feel? What would your perfect Ofsted do? Below are some initial thoughts of mine on this, please feel free to blog yours and share the link in comments, or post any other ideas straight in comments below.

Firstly, my Dream Ofsted would have a scheduled week and date in the calendar to visit each school, each year, so that schools could do their academic planning around this. It would not come with a punitive feel of impending and possible doom attached. It would be promoted as an uplifting and celebrated event, where inspectors were treated to see the school at its best, and in turn provide inspiring educational leadership and CPD.

Inspectors would have rapport with teachers and school staff and students. They would seek to engage with staff and understand their approaches and methods, and why they use them in each particular context. They would be teaching and learning specialists, with much classroom experience in the setting/phase visited. They would also be educational leadership and management specialists, with at least 5 years’ experience in an SLT role. They would also have academic expertise and accreditation and be ready to coach school staff. Their relationship would be mentoring and supportive, informative, embodied in a flattened hierarchical model, where they would be perceived as experienced and helpful, transformative experts, in a two way relationship with staff still doing the job.

Their rapport with school staff, students and the school community would also be carried back to the office, where they would be reachable as an agent consultant for the school all year round. Their inside knowledge and close relationship with the school’s context would provide expert and native level insight and understanding.

Their consultative role once back in the office would allow them to continue to support school teachers all year round, with mentoring and coaching relevant to their particular needs. They would be actively networking and be able to link staff with other professional contacts who could further help them and contribute to their teaching success and impact on student progress.

The analytical assessment side of the Ofsted role would be to identify needs and facilitate improvement as part of a positive ecosystem. It would not be a top-down, judgemental, mechanical system. It would be working in heart-harmony with schools and their communities.

And they would provide yearly awards for excellence and innovation in teaching.

What would your Dream Oftsed be like?