The interplay between leading and learning
Leadership in learning settings, from formal schooling and training to informal voluntary organisations, has several dimensions. There is the leadership defined by the role of a person such as a headteacher, director or co-ordinator – positional leadership. Positional leadership in this sense does not imply being in any specific part of the hierarchy. Rather, it comes from having been appointed to a particular role or responsibility. And so headteachers have positional leadership through their role, but so can an ordinary member of staff who is allocated the lead in a particular development or activity: a headteacher has a formal leadership role; others adopt informal ones.
Then there is the leadership of the teacher, youth worker, trainer or adult in charge that comes from the way they work with others, rather than through their formal role – what might be termed as opportunistic leadership – taking on leadership opportunistically. It is this type of leadership that we focus more on here. In considering these roles we need to look at the relationship between the how people ‘lead’ and how those they are working with ‘learn’. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive. In ‘leading’ one is also ‘learning’. Harris (2009) considers this interplay, summarising the literature and research around teachers-as-leaders.
As a consequence of this interplay of leadership and learning, there is a complex set of interactions between those involved – for example, teachers and pupils, trainers and trainees, youth workers and young people. Roles are blurred and learning does not take place solely because of any fixed relationship between roles. This free course, The interplay between leading and learning, explores this interplay and interactions.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of postgraduate level study in.