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Creating Rich Learning Environments and Developing Transformational Leaders


This article is Part 11 of an 11 part series of reflections on Patrick Duignan's book, "Educational Leadership".


In the context of today’s knowledge society, the memorisation of facts and procedures by students is not enough for their success (Duignan, 2012, p. 174).


School graduates today need a deep conceptual understanding of complex concepts, and the ability to work with them creatively to generate new ideas, new theories, new products, and new knowledge (Duignan, 2012, p. 174). They must be capable of critically evaluating what they read, to be able to express themselves clearly, both verbally and in writing, and be able to understand scientific and mathematical thinking. It is the sad reality that much of our contemporary schooling is ill-suited to creating these professionals (Duignan, 2012, p. 174).


We cannot ignore this dilemma as the moral imperative of schools is to prepare their students for being active and capable participants in their society – the new knowledge society. This shift creates a challenge for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders who will need to initiate and guide the change process in their schools to enable schools to meet this imperative. 


This calls for authentic leaders with a sound understanding of leading in a time of intense change and how to develop and empower learning communities within their schools where the quality of teaching and learning, and learning outcomes is enhanced. They must empower teachers to be more fully present to the transformative possibilities of students’ learning and to be more proactively responsible for creating learning opportunities and experiences that will help enhance and transform their students’ wellbeing and their lives. Leaders need to involve the whole learning community as architects of the cultural change in order to achieve and sustain a long-term transformation of the culture in their schools (Duignan).


Parkes (2005) describes this change process as an ‘adaptive change process’ where "critical choices must be made within significantly changed conditions, a greater diversity of perspectives must be taken into account, assumed values challenged, and where there is a deeper hunger for leadership that can exercise moral imagination and moral courage on behalf of the common good." (Duignan, 2012, p. 174).


A clear contemporary understanding of ‘adaptive change’ (as opposed to technical change) where change challenges the values, beliefs, culture and ultimately practices of those it is affecting is an important discussion for a future time.


Publication Bibliography

Duignan, P (Unpublished). Leadership Presence and Influence Relationships: building collective efficacy and professional responsibility for quality learning and teaching in schools.

Duignan, P. (2012). Educational Leadership (2nd ed). Melbourne, NSW: Cambridge University Press.



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