Ducere Exemplo – Lead by example

History; Innovation; News; Technology

​​​Ducere Exemplo – Lead by exampleOur aspiration is to provide high quality professional learning experiences that are transformative. Lead by example - our motto - provides the focus for all our endeavours. Through a carefully designed leadership curriculum and expert teaching we seek to model the type of learning that we hope educational leaders will create in the contexts in which they work.

Learning hosted at the landmark facility in North Melbourne exploits the full potential of technologies to support and enable learning. The design of learning spaces within the facility demonstrates the relationship between pedagogy and space. After three years of design, construction and development and much anticipation we swung open the doors to our first group of participants on Thursday 26 July 2012.

Bastow aims to impact positively on the development of leadership capability so that educational leaders are equipped to lead improvement in teaching and learning and improve the engagement, well-being and learning of students. Drawing on the teaching for understanding framework a coherent curriculum is designed to build deep understanding and the acquisition of skill that will transfer from workshop to workplace.

A rigorous evaluation framework provides us with multiple sources of feedback that informs continuous improvement. Over the past two years we have offered a broad range of courses to school and early childhood professionals with over 90 per cent indicating high levels of satisfaction with the course content design and delivery.

Henry Bastow was appointed architect and surveyor in schools division in 1873. In the first five years he built over 615 schools across Victoria. His legacy is tangible. It stands in wood and stone. It stands in the spirit of leadership, teamwork and innovation he sparked. The Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership draws inspiration from that legacy.

Another significant individual who left an indelible and enduring legacy on the world through technology was Steve Jobs. I recently read an article published in the April 2012 edition of Harvard Business Review on the Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Jobs' official biographer. The article describes Jobs approach to leadership at Apple and there are some helpful lessons to be drawn from his approach.

The first lesson was focus. Jobs would often ask his senior executives to identify 10 things that Apple should be doing.

When the list was complete, he would cut it back to just three ideas. Jobs believed that "deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do." This is true for educational leaders who seek to bring about lasting improvement – getting the strategy right means selecting the right priorities from the many issues vying for attention, referencing the strategies against the research and evidence base and then pursuing them relentlessly. First among these is the improving the quality of instruction as Hattie argues that it is the teacher that makes the difference to student learning and that "excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on achievement".

The second is simplify. Jobs aimed for the "simplicity that comes from conquering, rather than merely ignoring, complexity." Hattie (2033, p.5) identified five major dimensions of excellent teachers. Expert teachers can:

  • identify essential representations of their subject,
  • guide learning through classroom interactions,
  • monitor learning and provide feedback,
  • attend to affective attributes, and
  • influence student outcomes

Expert teachers have the capacity to 'simplify' the complex in the way they organise and use content knowledge.

The third is engage face to face. Jobs believed in the spontaneity of face to face meetings. The Pixar building, designed by Job, promoted 'unplanned encounters and collaborations.' The Bastow building has be designed to promote formal and informal collaboration both face to face and through the use of technology. The leering spaces at Bastow seek to align learning strategies, technologies and space in ways that acknowledge that learning is socially constructed.

The fourth is combine humanities with science. Jobs' life's work exemplified the bringing of humanities and science together. Bastow is committed to supporting leaders to keep in mind the 'type of adults they want young people to become' by providing a rich and diverse curriculum that promotes the knowledge, skills and dispositions that students will need to thrive in the future.

The last is stay hungry, stay foolish. Jobs challenged the status quo, pursued the solution to complex problems that lay as obstacles in the path to achieving his ideals. As a perfectionist he set high expectations for excellence in strategy and execution. Effective leaders ask powerful questions, are innovative, seek creative solutions to the problems they confront. In casting a vision of a high quality education for every child they disturb the status quo and as leaders stay open to continual learning so they can lead by example.

Unfortunately, death took Steve Jobs too soon, and he died peacefully at home on October 5, 2011, surrounded by his family. His legacy remains.

Bastow seeks to support educational leaders to have a positive and enduring impact on the learning communities they lead by creating the conditions for powerful human learning. The legacy you leave will not be in bricks and stone or in technology but in the lives of children and young people who are entrusted to our care and who we hope will go onto lead productive, fulfilling lives and make a positive contribution to society.

We look forward to meeting you at one of our courses or workshops and encouraging your leadership development.

Bruce Armstrong
Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership
Endnotes Hattie, J., Teachers Make a Difference - What is the research evidence? Australian Council for Educational Research, October 2003.