Monday, March 29, 2010

Leadership by Vision - Thinking Ahead

The final session of the Apple Education Leadership Summit was given by John Couch. He started by saying that Steve Jobs likened a computer to a mental bicycle - to amplify our mental abilities (just as a physical bicycle amplifies our physical abilities and allows us to go further/faster) and he talked about the need for innovation and leadership in education.

Innovation is what distinguishes being a leader and being a follower, and leadership requires that we think ahead - to what our students will need in their lives beyond school. We need to develop a vision of what this future will be like and the only thing we know for sure is that technology will continue to play in important role.

Currently we are at a point where technology is disrupting our traditional model of education and we cannot afford to ignore these forces for change. It is leadership and innovation that will transform our education system and it is likely that a lot of this change will involve a mobile platform - already schools and students are starting to use the iPhone and iPod touch in education. Thinking ahead involves thinking differently and it is vital, as we have to plan this year for next year.

John Couch highlighted the need for leadership by vision. He said that when one sees with his eyes it is called sight, when one sees with imagination it is called passion and vision. Apple's vision for education is a world in which all learners are empowered to discover their own special genius. For us as teachers we need to realise that technology is only technology to those born before the technology. We still see technology as a tool, whereas students see it as an environment - it is therefore today's students who are driving the need for transformation.

In the past concept of knowledge was accumulation. When I was at school all that was really required was to learn a lot of facts and regurgite them for tests. Today knowledge is more about collaboration and transformation. The learning emphasis is on relationships and inquiry. The new generation of students expect a learning environment that provides equivalent functionality to their social environment. They have a mobile lifestyle and expect the same in education and in addition they want it to adapt to their individual learning styles and encourage collaboration and teamwork. The question is, have we as teachers changed our pedagogy sufficiently in order to challenge and motivate these students?

John Couch went on to discuss the difference between education and learning: education is a noun - the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, whereas learning is a verb - to gain or acquire knowledge or skill by study and experience. He finished with a quote from Seymour Papert: the role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.

Photo Credit: Up:: 6/52 by Devendernarang


  1. Maggie, I so wish that I could have been there to hear John in person with you...the next best thing? reading your blog post after. Thank you for writing this inspiring and though provoking post. I have been thinking a lot about what this looks like in action. If Apple created a school, what would it look like, how would it be run, what kind of teachers would be employed there? Without a doubt I know that it would be a place of creativity and innovation.

  2. My 9 month old Skypes every night with his grandparents. To him, that's just life; the way things are. That's who we as teachers need to be prepared to teach. We definitely need to make a bigger shift as we plan. Thanks for the post!