Leadership Part 3

Changing Agendas in Leadership

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The following essay represents an analysis of a current leadership issue in an organisational context, referencing appropriate literature.

Glossary of Terms

ARI – Australian Racing Industry
QRI – Queensland Racing Industry
QRITC – Queensland Racing Industry Training Centre
SBM – Site – Based Management

Introduction

It would seem that economic rationalism is a characteristic of our time (Burchell: 1994:36). We as educationalists however still have our task at hand. That is, to educate. We must therefore learn to understand the issues of contemporary business operation in order to be in a position to ensure that the most effective educational delivery can be achieved, given the environmental constraints.
I have isolated two (2) issues that due to their impact on the effectiveness of this delivery, warrant a closer look. The first issue is the debate between centralised and decentralised management forms (Smyth:1993:1) ; and, the second issue is the discussion of engendering; particularly the differences between what is now referred to as the male and female ethos (Rogers:1988:1).
In order to show the effects of these issues, the essay will broach the following areas:
Firstly, the necessary background information about the organisation (QRITC) that I have chosen to investigate, in order to contextualise the discussion, is found in Appendix 1;
Secondly, a brief outline of this educational institution’s (QRITC) management and leadership style, and the effects this has had upon the organisation’s positioning for delivery effectiveness. Note, a summary of the effects the institution’s (QRITC) management and leadership style has had on the operation of the organisation, in my view, is found in Appendix 2;
Thirdly, the proposition that two (2) of the responsibilities of Racing Division, the Management and Leadership of a Public Service Division of a Department and the Management and Leadership of a Commercially Run Operation Sub-Program, are in effect conflicting ideals. Of consequence, the resultant culture at QRITC I believe exemplifies how a centralised ethos, and in this specific instance, one that possesses a lack of sound/accepted forms of management practice, can negatively impact the effective delivery of quality commercial education. It therefore provides the necessary justification as to why development is required to progress the traditional management and leadership style to a more progressive alternative ‘inclusive/ participative’ management and leadership style;
And fourthly, to outline a possible option – a more progressive alternative ‘inclusive/ participative’ management and leadership style – that organisations such as QRITC could pursue, to become a far more effective deliverer of commercial education.
I will analyse what I have learnt from the study of this institution, showing how the issues of ‘Leadership and Management: Changing Agendas in Education’ clarify my understanding of sound educational institutional practice.

queensland-racing

QRITC

Since its’ inception, QRITC has always been very central to political debate, speculation and controversy- sometimes with good reason and at other times merely as a ‘victim’ of political manipulation.
The areas of Government-Industry contention and disagreement seems to be around who has control of what, who should have control of what, and the degree of contribution, both in terms of time and resources. Whilst the Queensland Racing Industry has somewhat been involved in the training process of their industry over the past 4 years, the Government is bearing the greatest degree of responsibility to ensure the training takes place. Although it was originally thought that within this 4 year period, the Queensland Racing Industry would have been in a position to assume responsibility for the Industry, this is still not the case. Based on the current level of Industry involvement, I would guess that it will still be some time before the Queensland Racing Industry is in a position to assume responsibility for the training of its’ participants.
Part of the reasoning behind the media’s involvement and the politicising of the issues I understand is that the industry has felt the government has precluded the industry on any of its’ (major) decision-making processes. That is, the government’s centralised management and leadership philosophy has actually been blamed for the lack of involvement and ownership displayed by the Queensland Racing Industry. This viewpoint is denied by government. The government justifies their position by suggesting that the QRI has never displayed any degree of maturity in the professional running of the industry.
However, irrespective of which viewpoint one accepts (the governments’ or the industry’s), it seems to me that central to this debate is one of professional disagreement and mutual feelings of mistrust and disrespect. These attributes, displayed by the two (2) parties would seem to me to be those stemming from a male ethos, rather than the more collaborative attributes of the female ethos. Termed the male ethos, Rogers suggests it is characterised by a competitive operating style; a hierarchical organisational structure; a basic objective of winning; a rational problem-solving style; and other characteristics such as high control, unemotional, analytical and strategic methodologies (Rogers:1988:1-8). In contrast, the female ethos is characterised by a cooperative operating style; a team organisational structure; a basic objective of quality output; an intuitive and rational problem-solving style; and other characteristics such as low control, empathetic, collaborative and high performance standards (Rogers:1988:1-8) (my italics). This male ethos then is in principle diametrically opposite to the ethics of the female ethos. Given this distinction, it is not possible then to totally dismiss the industry’s claim that the government has not included them sufficiently in the development of the training sector of the Racing Industry. Perhaps then, the claims that the type of training that is being delivered as having only marginal relevance to the industry could be applicable as well.
I hold that these two ethos are mutually exclusive, and furthermore, when the controlling ethos is that of a male, then it is by definition, impossible for the female ethos to exist. I believe that it is perhaps this operational paradigm that has prevented the QRI from realising its true potential. That is, to be a self- regulating, responsible, accountable industry body.
It is clear that the philosophy that the division operates out of is one of a centralised approach. Characterised by a hierarchical organisational structure, the division views leadership in terms of how the managers can influence the staff to pull in the same direction. Staff are not asked to participate or contribute in the management process (except in the instances when a hard decision needs to be made and the division wanted the staff to arrive at the realisation that a hard decision had to be made) (Smyth:1993: 1). Gemmill and Oakley suggested that “as a result of deeply ingrained cultural assumptions, approaches to the study of leadership usually start with the idea that leaders are unquestionably necessary for the functioning of an organisation” (Gemmill & Oakley:1992:113). As Watkins noted: “Traditional stances in leadership take for granted the one-directional flow from the leader to the led” (Watkins:1989:10). When discussing QRITC staff relation issues within the division, the word most often used to describe how the division expected the staff at QRITC to behave was ‘compliance’. Rogers proposes that this traditional philosophy is of a male persuasion.
Struggling between the need for departmental compliance, and yet attempting to meet the needs of the fee-paying customers, the staff of QRITC have found themselves in a precarious operational situation. There have been many examples of the conflict of these contrasting needs, with the result being:
  • an inability of staff to meet the needs of the client, no matter how easy the solution would have been to effect, and;
  • spontaneous action on the staff’s part to service the needs of the client, only to be reprimanded for acting ‘out of authority’ (that is, not waiting for permission to act).
I think that the resultant culture that has formed is one of frustration (felt by those that can see what needs to happen but no authorisation to do anything about it), followed by operational performance mediocrity (when the staff console themselves of the situational helplessness, caused in part due to the slow response time between when things should happen and when they actually do).
However, at the core of this problem is a characteristic that I feel has had the greatest impact on QRITC. It is what I call the ‘centralised one day, decentralised the next’ syndrome. It is my observation that QRITC suffers from a lack of sound management practice. Defined by Griffin as “that practice that attempts to make the unpredictable, predictable”, sound management practice is clearly accepted as a key to effective commercial organisations (Griffin: 1996:48). It is also accepted that sound management practice results from either a sound manager or ‘sound’ procedures (Gerber:1995:81). The ‘centralised one day, decentralised the next’ syndrome is where the management practices are negligent, and the main controller rules by having a say in every day practice, and therefore never sets in place accepted appropriate management procedures. Things progress smoothly whilst the main controller is involved. Then because things are moving smoothly, the main controller offers or accepts other opportunities to expand the activities. This takes their attention from the original area of activity to the new area. This new entrepreneurial venture then occupies their time and concentration, rather than the original area. Again, staff find themselves in a precarious operational situation. With little direct guidance, staff find themselves in the situation with the result being:
           A.   Either the staff feel disempowered to make any decisions or show any initiative as they are dependant upon advice for an appropriate action/have been conditioned to be led to an appropriate action; or;
           B.    they proceed with what they feel is the appropriate action, only to be reprimanded for stepping beyond their authority or for taking the inappropriate action. A natural progression of this is that staff return to situation A.
The problem with the procedures being held  by the sound manager approach, is that it prevents effective delegation from occurring, as the delegate to the sound manager relies on their constant input and approval for the manner any delegations are effected. Add to this the situation where the manager is unavoidably removed from the day to day operations, and we have a situation that could go either way (staff respond A or B). Secondly, if or when that manager decides to leave the institution, the procedures leave with them. Perhaps some competent people join the organisation at various points (that is, the organisation buys in expertise to address an immediate/urgent need), and because of those professionals’ own skill levels, a positive impact can be made (to some degree). However, it was my observation, that at some point, those people also get relegated to situation A or B as the controller bounces between projects, giving little guidance, but still expecting to have a hand in the controlling of the operation. These professionals soon get frustrated, and leave. The controller at this point needs to make a mature decision to see the error of their ways (and I would argue that a mature decision-maker would not get themselves into that position in the first place). They need to reduce their activities back to the original core elements until such time that the appropriate procedures have been implemented. Until that occurs I believe, the organisation will stumble along into the future. The culture of these types of organisations becomes set in chaos, blame becomes a common characteristic, and ownership for the organisation is always controlled by the one person. Battling the elements of unpredictable business life soon becomes the way of life: the challenge for these entrepreneurial types. I think that compounding the centralised management style, without sound/accepted forms of management practice, the operational process at QRITC, ensuring the delivery of quality commercial education, broke down.
Drucker poses that the emerging world is going to be of a somewhat different form to that which the traditional theories have been based upon (Drucker:1997:19), thereby necessitating a further change in our perspective.  It follows then that a new organisational theory is needed. Limerick, Cunnington and Crowther present what they see as a new management process required for such organisations, given the times (Limerick, Cunnington and Crowther:1998:231).
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Referred to as the 4th Blueprint, Limerick et al outline the characteristics that an organisation would be. Centred on a principle of participation, the new organisation utilises a new perspective (relative to the traditional view) of what leadership is required. In a participative leadership approach it is said, that neither the concept of leadership nor authoritarian hierarchical rule exists. Fundamentally, with the participative approach, the concept of who leads is a much broader concept. In such a model, everyone within the organisation can be seen as being a leader, an interdependent, self-regulating team player that is assisting the organisation to a greater, degree of success, whatever that may be.
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Rogers puts forward that the distinction between authoritative and participative leadership approaches can be explained from the philosophical viewpoint, the male and female ethos (Rogers:1988:1). In a participative leadership approach, the characteristics of the female ethos (as already explained) exist. That is, a cooperative operating style; a team organisational structure; low control, collaborative and high performance standards (Rogers:1988:1-8) (my italics). In contrast, the concept of authoritarian hierarchical rule is characterised by the male ethos traits; a competitive operating style; a hierarchical organisational structure; a basic objective of winning; and high control (Rogers:1988:1-8). I would therefore put forth that only once the concept of authority is disregarded, can the concept of participation be adopted. It is at this point of mutual exclusivity, that the concept of leadership necessarily changes.
Organisations of the future need everyone thinking about what new directions to pursue. No one person can now lead from the front. Future leadership will depend on complex knowledge and innovation from all. Innovators will lead by showing where an industry is likely to go next. The implication of this is that leaders will not necessarily be inside an organisation to achieve this. We already speak of ‘market leaders’. It follows then that leadership can come from anywhere.
I think that at present, whilst it could be argued that we are moving towards such an ideal, our governments are controlled by the ethics of the traditional male ethos of accountability, politics, power and securing and maintaining ones’ personal (financial) position. I believe that the Division of Racing exemplifies this view. However, if it is the requirement of contempoary business to have many active participants throughout the organisation, it could now be said that this traditional ‘male’ concept of leadership is redundant. It has been suggested that a solution to this call for a more balanced view of educational organisations, incorporating more of a female ‘participative’ ethos, is site-based management.
site-based-management
I will take this opportunity to introduce the basic premise of site-based management, highlighting how an educational organisation could benefit, in real terms through such increased efficiencies in productivity, procedures and a greater degree of product/client alignment through product diversity (Cope and Kalantzis:1997:135). Site-based management has almost as many variants as there are places claiming to be “site-based”. Smyth, Caldwell, Crowther, Hargreaves and others note the diversity of terminology. The internet also displays the diversity of interpretation, with many using the expression as a recognisable ‘buzz-word’, irrespective of the authenticity of the concept.
Several reasons for initiating site-based management (SBM) have been presented. Noble, Deemer and Davis explain SBM is typically implemented for the following objectives: shared governance through decentralisation; and, collaborative decision-making. They continue by suggesting that “explicit and implicit outcomes for school- based management often…include 1) improved academic achievement; 2) increased accountability; 3)empowerment; and 4) political utility” (Noble, Deemer and Davis: 1996:1). Therefore the ultimate outcome of SBM could be seen as a way of improving learner achievement. Although site-based management appears in many guises, and at its core is the idea of participatory decision-making at the institutional site, despite all the variations in rationale, its main stated objective is to enhance student achievement. Participatory decision-making and school improvement are presumed to be related, but that’s not always the case. To others, site-based management is a governance reform designed to shift the balance of authority among institutions, their greater districts (in QRITC’s case, the industry) and the state. This tends to be the rationale behind state efforts rather than district reforms, and it is often part of a larger reform agenda that claims to trade institutional autonomy for accountability to the state (Caldwell and Spinks in Caldwell:1996:4). To others again, site-based management is a political reform initiated to broaden the decision-making base, either within the institution, the larger community, or both. But democratization of decision- making as an end in itself leaves open the question of who should be involved in which decisions (Caldwell and Spinks in Caldwell:1996:4). This would appear to be the QRI’s motive/view.
Site-based management may also be an administrative reform to make management more efficient by decentralising and deregulating it. Here, too, management efficiency presumably serves the ultimate goal of the organisation-student learning. Yet another premise of site-based management as educational reform is that the way to enhance student learning is to let education professionals make the important professional decisions (Rizvi: 1993:1). It is this practice that I believe QRITC has shown to benefit the learners. Decentralised management forms, allowing education professionals to make the important professional decisions, could net positive benefits for QRITC. One result could be a more aligned organisational/client product, effectively giving the learner a better education. I would argue that by preventing the educational staff at QRITC from consistently making these decisions, is negatively impacting the organisation’s ability to effectively deliver commercial education.
Some however are more cynical. Smyth reports that the “rhetoric of devolution” (one of the many terms for SBM ) is claimed to be occurring as a means for the government to be delegating the responsibility, but withholding the authority that normally goes with that responsibility (Smyth:1993:1). The situation I suggested earlier – when a hard decision by the division needed to be made, so the division (out of character) delegated the responsibility to the staff in order to have them arrive at the realisation themselves – exemplifies this. Further complicating the landscape, there are often underlying motives. Stated purposes may obscure far less lofty aims, such as weakening entrenched and distrusted local managers, creating the illusion of reform without investing more resources, putting a positive spin on central office downsizing by calling it decentralization, or simply trying to shift the blame for failure to the institution itself. It would appear that several have accussed the Division of Racing of being guilty of these practices.
To add another perspective to the positive picture being painted about SBM, I would like to propose the down side of participative practices. When a group is formed by bringing together people who have never worked as a group before, who may have no experience in collaborative decision-making, and who may in fact have a history of being adversaries (farriers and stewards, educators and business operators, for example), progress may not always be an ensuing result. This has been exemplified in several government initiated industry advisory panels. Individual lobby interests have taken precedence over the agenda items that effect the industry as a whole. To make matters worse, some members who may be subject to evaluation by other members (potential industry assessors and the QRITC manager, most obviously), have elected to withhold their opinion for the fear that their view would impact their potential assessing opportunity. I would ask, that in the examples presented here, is this participative process going to necessarily improve student/learner achievement? Will it in real terms benefit the learner? Or, will this participative forum have flow on effects, benefiting the industry or educational environment, perhaps indirectly influencing an improvement in learner achievement?
Participatory management (SBM) does not I believe hold the view that all parties have to be involved in all levels of discussion, everytime. Some decisions are best left to the professionals in the institution (as presented), some to parents, and others to students. Some decisions are appropriately made by representatives of several constituencies, others by a formal industry body. Nor does site-based management mean that all decisions are appropriately made at the institutional level. Institutions have to accept that they belong to a larger system—industry and state – that must provide a strong centre if decentralisation is to create effective education (Caldwell:1996:3-19)
An example of a decision that should be best left to the institution’s professionals is that of curriculum and instruction methodologies. Curriculum and instruction methodologies are difficult to deal with, for educators and non-educators alike. These issues are even more difficult to tackle when governing bodies mandate new assessments that require teaching methods that may be unfamiliar to the actual instructors that have to implement them.
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In addition, when there are serious consequences for unsatisfactory student performance – especially teacher or principal dismissal –  but a lack of knowledge about how to improve student performance, trust and constructive dialogue are further undermined. This therefore raises the issue of who decides what within the process. It has been my experience that sound decisions are made by those who are informed about and care about the issues and who know the context in which the decision will be carried out. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that these decisions will be any better than those made by policymakers many steps removed. In fact, it is even possible for this scenario to occur within a school-based decision framework if the decision is made by only one person, and that person was uninformed and insensitive to the context. This also occurred at QRITC some time ago, when the Division allowed delegation of responsibility for the curriculum. However, I would understand that this delegation occurred as a result of the Division not being:
  1. informed, or ;
  2. having the time to be involved due to other ‘pet’ projects in other areas.
As a result, the person that was delegated the responsibility also was not informed as to the specifics of the context.
The challenge I believe, is to maximise the likelihood that decisions will be appropriately participatory, informed, and sensitive to the context. It would appear that it is now accepted that the success of educational institutions is largely dependent upon relevant leadership. If the definition of leadership as proposed in the female ethos was to be adopted, social participants would play a much greater empowered active role in society, leading small productive groups as equals. However, as highlighted, merely leading small productive groups, supposedly as equals, does not ensure that the ideals of the female ethos are achieved. After all, if the participative activity is a manipulative attempt to realise male ethos objectives, then this does not equate to the inclusion of active participants. In fact, I would suggest that as the staff recognise the pattern, it further disillusions them, disempowering them from possible productive participation.

Conclusion

I have attempted to analyse this institutional situation, showing how two issues of ‘Leadership and Management: Changing Agendas in Education’ can impact the effective delivery of quality contemporary commercial education.
The issues I chose were: the debate between centralised and decentralised management forms (Smyth:1993:1) ; and, the discussion of engendering; particularly the differences between what is now referred to as the male and female ethos (Rogers:1988:1). I have chosen these as the priority of what an organisation should consider. These macro issues, are the issues that could without initial consideration, prevent the delivery of quality contemporary education. I feel therefore the organisation needs to give these conscious (philosophical) consideration.
I highlighted the educational institution’s (QRITC) management and leadership style, and the effects this has had upon the organisation’s positioning within the industry for effective delivery of quality contemporary education. I proposed that two (2) of the responsibilities of Racing Division, the Management and Leadership of a Public Service Division of a Department and the Management and Leadership of a Commercially Run Operation Sub-Program, were in effect conflicting ideals.
Of consequence, the resultant culture at QRITC I believe exemplified how a centralised ethos, and in this specific instance, one that possesses a lack of sound/accepted forms of management practice, negatively impacted the effective delivery of quality contemporary commercial education. It therefore provided the necessary justification as to why development is required to progress the traditional male management and leadership style to a more progressive alternative inclusive/ participative female management and leadership style.
In my next blog in this series, I plan to outline a possible option – a more progressive alternative inclusive/ participative management and leadership style, site-based management – that QRITC could pursue, to ensure a far more effective delivery of quality contemporary commercial education can be realised.
References
Acker, J. (1990) Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organisation. Gender and Society, 4 (2), June, pp 139-158
Burchell, D. (1994) Economic government and social sciences: the economic rationalism debate. Cultural Policy Paper, QLD: Griffith University.
Caldwell, B. (1996) Beyond the Self-Management School: Adding Value in Schools of the Third Millennium. IARTV Seminar Series, No 53, Jolimont, IARTV, pp 3-19
Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (1997) Productive diversity: stories of organisation in the era of civic pluralism and total globalisation. Productive Diversity: A New Australian Model for Work and Management. Australia: Pluto Press, pp 128-129, 136-139, 189-198
Crowther, F. (1996) Unsung Heroes: Leaders in our Classroom. The Sixth William Walker Oration. Australian Council for Educational Administration, Perth, Sept
Drucker, P., Dyson, E,. Handy, C., Saffo, P., Senge, P. (1997) Looking Ahead: Implications of the Present . Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct, pp18-20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30,32
Filson, B. (1994) The new leadership Hospitals & Health Networks. Leadership in Health care, Volume: 68 Issue: 17
Galbraith, J.R. (1977) Organisation Design. Reading:Addison-Wesley
Gemmill, G. and Oakley, J. (1992) Leadership: An Alienating Social Myth? Human Relations, 45(2), p113-127
Gerber, M. (1995) The E Myth Revisited. New York:Harper Business
Griffin, R. (1996) Management. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Hargreaves, A. (1994) Changing teachers, Changing times: Teacher Work and Culture in the Postmodern Age. London: Cassell, pp 163-183
Hart, S. and Quinn, R. (1993) Roles Executives Play:CEO’s, Behavioural Complexity, and Firm Performance. Human Relations, 46, pp543-574
Hitt, W. (1995) The Learning Organisation: Some Reflections on Organisational Renewal. Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, 16(8), 17 –25
Knight, J. and Ehrich,L.C. (1998) Leardership in Crisis. Flaxton: Post Pressed.
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership Accessed 10th September 2013
 (eds) Leadership in Crisis? Restructuring Principled Practice Essays on Contemporary Educational Leadership, pp1-14
Limerick, B. and Cranston, N.   Forthcoming   Re/Engineering Leadership: Reconceptualing Our Understandings of Leadership, in Knight, J. and Elrich, L. (1998) Leardership in Crisis. Flaxton: Post Pressed.
Limerick, D., Cunnington, B. and Crowther, F. (1998) Managing the New Organisation: Collaboration and Sustainability in the Post- Corporate World. Sydney: Business and Professional Publishing
McKereghan, D.L. (1997) “What is leadership?” http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/marquisgranby/34/whatis.html
Noble, A., Deemer, S. and Davis, B. (1996) School-Based Management. http://www.rdc.udel.edu/pb9601.html
Ozga, J. and Walker, L. (1995) Women in Education Management, in Limerick, B. and Lingard, B (eds) Changing Gender and Management. Rydalmere:Hodder, pp 34-43
Queensland Racing image courtesy of Queensland Racing  Accessed 10th September 2013
Rizvi, F. (1993) Contrasting Perceptions of Devolution. QUT Professional Magazine, 11(1), May, pp1-5
Rogers, J. (1988) New Paradigm Leadership: Integrating the Female Ethos. Initiatives,51,Fall, pp1-8
Senge, P., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Smith, B., Kleiner, A. (1994) The Fifth Discipline Feildbook. Great Britain: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Limited
Site-based management image courtesy of Site-based Management Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Smyth, J. (ed) (1993) A Socially Critical View of the Self-Managing School. London:The Falmer Press, pp1-9
Student image courtesy of  Curriculum Design  Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Vision blueprint image courtesy of:  Vision Blueprint   Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Watkins, P. (1989) Leadership, Power and Symbols in Educational Administration, in Smyth, J. (ed) Critical Perspectives in Educational Leadership. London:The Falmer Press, pp 9 -37.
– ©David L Page 30/05/1999
– updated ©David L Page 12/09/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.
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Leadership Part 2

What is 21st Century Leadership?

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Many have attempted to define what leadership is. Galbraith for example:
     “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” (Galbraith:1977b)
This has set the platform for many others to follow in their expression of what leadership means. Xin puts forward a number of the views of what leadership has been considered over the century:
     “the ability to impose the will of the leader on those led and to induce obedience, respect, loyalty, and cooperation”   (Moore,1927 in Xin:1997) “a source of influence over others” (Weber, 1947 in Xin:1997) “the activity of persuading people to cooperate in the achievement of a common objective” (Koontz,1955 in Xin:1997) “the influential increment over and above mechanical compliance with routine directions of the organisation” (Katz & Katn,1978 in Xin:1997) “the process act of influencing the activities of an organised group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement” (Burke,1982 in Xin:1997) “the process by which an individual motivates or influences others to forego self-interest in the interest of a collective vision, and to contribute to the attainment of that vision and to the collective by making significant self-sacrifices over and above the call of duty willingly” (House, 1993 in Xin:1997) (Xin:1997:Chapter11)
As our primary image of the leader originally came from the military, leaders were once considered great because of their hero status, especially military heroes. Hero worship is both good and bad. Good if it inspires us to greater heights, but bad if it disempowers us and makes us dependent on our hero. The military hero knows where to go and how to get there so they can ‘lead’ from the front. This view has in some ways been transferred to how organisations have been led.
Leadership in organisations therefore is too often confused with the question of how people in positions of authority can influence employees to pull in the same direction. Fundamentally this is the traditional view, with studies having taken place in the early stages of the industrial revolution, making up the foundation of what we now call the science of organisational management. Some of the earliest systematic studies of industrialised organisations were by Taylor, Gantt and Gilbreth. They were “practical managers, driven by the problems of their time to a preoccupation with the relationship between the individual and the organisation of the enterprise in which they worked”(Lupton:1977:24). As Hitt writes, “This century has witnessed the emergence of three quite different organisational paradigms” (Hitt:1995:25): or as Limerick, Cunnington and Crowther address, this development of the science of management has been divided into what they refer to as 3 blueprints (Limerick et al:1998:27).
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The 1st Blueprint: “the traditional classical approach to management, which dominated western thinking from the turn of the century to well into the 1930’s, was a child of the Industrial Revolution. It was born in a society concerned with increasing productivity and industrial output” (Limerick et al:1998:29). “There have been a number of devastating critiques of classical theory in the management literature. At the heart of it all is a trenchant attack on the impersonal, dehumanising autocracy of such a system, a legacy of nineteenth century social stratification” (Limerick et al:1998:31).
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The 2nd Blueprint: “The focus (then) shifted from the formal organisation to the informal workgroup. The famous Hawthorne studies conducted at the Hawthorne works at the Western Electric Company from 1922 to 1933 brought about a revolution in the way human nature and the work situation were thought about”. Still considered significant, the study showed that the work group “played an important role – perhaps even more important than that of management- in determining the attitudes of performance of individual workers. The scene was set for the emergence of a new conception of people, expressed in the doctrine of social man. Money and economic motivations were now seen to be of secondary importance to how workers felt about their jobs. This led management to a focus on collectivity- on groups” (Limerick et al:1998:32).
“The human relations philosophy and its’ concern for social man lasted until the recession of 1957 – 58. The emphasis then shifted human relations to human resources.” “The human resources movement expanded the focus of the second blueprint from a concern with social group-level phenomena to a concern with the interface between individual and organisational effectiveness. It still located the individual firmly in the group context, however” (Limerick et al:1998:33).
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The 3rd Blueprint: “Yet sometime in the decade of between 1960 and 1970, the strategy for mass marketing, production and distribution of standardised encapsulated in the 1st and 2nd Blueprints began to fail “(Limerick et al:1998:35). “Dramatic changes in the world economy from the 1960’s on, saw a number of less developed economies enter the global marketplace producing goods in direct competition to developed economies such as the US. With production costs in these less developed economies a fraction of what the US was, the US model started to show signs of redundancy (Limerick et al:1998:36). A new model was developed, known as the open system model of management (Limerick et al:1998:37). This model contrasted to the 2nd Blueprint in so much as it focussed on what was happening outside the organisation, as opposed to that which was happening inside. The 3rd Blueprint argued that no one system of management would the optimum method. Rather, they concluded “that any system adopted should be in contingent on the degree of change or stability in the environment of the organisation. They distinguished between two systems”: mechanistic (organisations displaying characteristics of 1st Blueprint); and
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Organic (organisations displaying characteristics of 2nd Blueprint) (Limerick et al:1998:37). This model “gained in popularity in the 1960’s and dominated the 1970’s” (Limerick et al:1998:39).   It was said that the aim of systems theory was to facilitate better understanding in a complex environment” (Johnson in Limerick et al:1998:39), “relating the firm to its environment and administratively upon coordinating department specialties and points of view” (Andrews & Christensen in Limerick et al:1998:39).Naturally therefore, the model developed into an “intricate, complex contingency theory “ (Limerick et al:1998:40). Subsequent to this, by the mid 1970’s a variation of this theory was developed in the form of a ‘matrix’, whereby a suitable mix of management focus could be drawn upon depending upon the particular organisational requirements. Despite the complexities of this system, the one characteristic that seemed to arise out of this model was the emphasis on the unity of the TEAM: both the “development of team skills and the enhancement of team spirit” (Limerick et al:1998:40). As has been already highlighted, due to the development of the organisation in the Industrial era, the view of leadership has developed. Gemmill and Oakley suggested that “as a result of deeply ingrained cultural assumptions, approaches to the study of leadership usually start with the idea that leaders are unquestionably necessary for the functioning of an organisation” (Gemmill & Oakley:1992:113). As Watkins noted “Traditional stances in Leadership take for granted the one-directional flow from the leader to the led” (Watkins:1989:10). However Drucker poses that the emerging world as being of somewhat different form to that which all of the above theories have been based upon (Drucker:1997:19), thereby necessitating a change in our perspective.
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Leadership and management issues, have dominated human resource management journals for the last decade (Hart & Quinn:1993:544) and it appears as though it will continue. With the world continuing in its’ rate of development, further discussion is needed. In the eighties and early nineties social and economic uncertainties affected all countries. Unparalleled changes in the English speaking world occurred, particularly the UK, the USA and Australia (OECD: 1992:15). Resulting difficulties included the weakening of the middle class, the widening of the gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged classes, historically high levels of unemployment, the growth of foreign debt and the loss of economic competitiveness. These global realities as well as such as decreasing birthrates, retirement ages and the phenomenon of insufficient population numbers being available to meet the required demand for human resources, leads Drucker to believe that there will be therefore a different set of governing factors as we progress into the next millennium (Drucker:1997:20). It follows then that a new organisational theory is needed. Limerick, Cunnington and Crowther present what they see as a new management process required for such organisations, given the times (Limerick et al :1998:231). Referred to as the 4th Blueprint, Limerick et al outline the characteristics that an organisation would be. Centred on a principle of participation, the new organisation utilises a new perspective (relative to the traditional view) of what leadership is required.
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The 4th Blueprint puts forth that the concept of leadership necessarily changes once the concept of authority is disregarded and one of participation is adopted. Fundamentally, therefore, with the participative approach, the concept of who leads is a much broader concept. In such a model, everyone within the organisation can be seen as being a leader, an independent, self-regulating team player that is assisting the organisation to a greater, degree of success, whatever that may be. Limerick et al note that the 4th Blueprint is a fusion of several theorist’s views of a post-corporate era. Drucker proposes that knowledge is put forward as the variable that will determine who –which society- succeeds and which don’t (Limerick et al:1998:193). Spender in Limerick et al suggests that working patterns are changing so that employment may be found in ‘portfolio’ work rather than the traditional job (Limerick et al:1998:193).Limerick et al continue by noting that 4th ”Blueprint participants will confront immense uncertainty and massive challenges with regard to their work: “reconstructing their workplaces so that they are linked, to the greatest extent possible, to human and environmental well being, rather than to the the negative and degrading effects that some associate with industrial and corporate processes” (Limerick et al:1998:194). They continue that while “we can be guided by the utilitarian, performance –oriented values of corporate blueprints, or we can attempt to actualise our dreams of contributive, supportive systems of action in our social order and in our workplace” (Limerick et al:1998:194-5).
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Organisations of the future need everyone thinking about what new directions to pursue. No one person can now lead from the front. Future leadership will depend on complex knowledge and innovation from all. Innovators will lead by showing where an industry is likely to go next. The implication of this is that leaders will not need to be inside an organisation to achieve this. We already speak of ‘market leaders’. It follows then that leadership can come from anywhere. It could be said that this form of leadership is about innovation, rather than about developing personal influence skills to motivate lacklustre employees. As knowledge workers become empowered enough to think like entrepreneurs, perhaps they will look outside of the organisation for leadership if suitable leadership is not provided inside.
Second to this, is the distinction between the approaches to organisations from a philosophical viewpoint. Rogers puts forward that the distinction between authoritative and participative leadership approaches can be explained in what is referred to as a male and female ethos (Rogers:1988:1). The male ethos is characterised by a competitive operating style; a hierarchical organisational structure; a basic objective of winning; a rational problem-solving style; and other characteristics such as high control, unemotional, analytical and strategic methodologies (Rogers:1988:1-8). The female-orientated organisation is by characterised by a cooperative operating style; a team organisational structure; a basic objective of quality output; an intuitive and rational problem-solving style; and other characteristics such as low control, empathetic, collaborative and high performance standards (Rogers:1988:1-8). Therefore, in a participative leadership approach, neither the concept of leadership nor authoritarian hierarchical rule exists. I think that at present, whilst it could be argued that we are moving towards such an ideal, our governments are controlled by organisations and ethics of the traditional male ethos of accountability, politics, power and securing and maintaining ones’ personal (financial) position. These views are in principle I believe diametrically opposed to the ethics of the female ethos.
I think that the question therefore needs to be asked. If these two philosophies are at opposite ends of the managerial and leadership spectrum, at what point will there be a fundamental change? To me such a switch in approaches of interrelating to, and the organisation of people, will be like switching the side of the road we drive on from one direction to the opposite. Unless it is done in one synchronised movement, there will be chaos. Whilst this metaphor assumes a relatively simple level of complexity, such a change of philosophical approach in the way we as human beings have been socialised to interact, will prevent such a straight forward solution to occur. I think then that this raises another question as to whether we as a society can accept a mutually exclusive view of these two ethos-male and female, or whether infact that all the characteristics displayed by them should exist somehow interdependantly.
Nevertheless, the current period of global development has highlighted the need to reconceptualise what it is that is required for us as a society to continue to function and enjoy the level of economic success that we have experienced in the past. Of consequence, the need to redefine the role of the organisation and how it functions has been highlighted. However in this process of redefining, it has become apparent that much broader than the organisation are the relationships between individuals of society and the very ethos that motivate our interaction on a daily basis. Merely reorganising organisations will not achieve much without society accepting the need for and the driving of , the philosophical developments necessary.
It would appear that it is now accepted that the success of both governments and business organisations is largely dependent upon quality leadership. I would extend that the success of society is also dependent upon quality leadership. However, it is the definition of leadership that is very much still being debated. If the definition of leadership as proposed in the female ethos was to be adopted, social participants would play a much greater empowered role in society, leading small productive groups as equals. This then raises other questions such as how we as a society would arrive at an empowered model, without becoming dependant upon the being led stage? Perhaps then, what is required to ensure that the 4th Blueprint vision is realised, is to lead society to the belief that this is a realistic, viable alternative to the current being led model. Yet again herein lies the dilemma. At what point does ‘being led’ as a society cease, and leading as empowered individuals begin? It is for this reason that leadership and management issues will continue to be investigated and debated.
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Whilst the focus of this essay has been that of organisations and its’ leadership, I hope to have shown that as organisations are only a product of our social relationships, and any discussion needs to include what we as a society are developing into.
In my next blog in this series, I plan to discuss Changing Agendas in Leadership.
References
Characteristics of a Leader image courtesy of Characteristics of Leaders Accessed 10th September 2013
Drucker P, Dyson E, Handy C, Saffo P, Senge P (1997) Looking Ahead: Implications of the Present Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct, pp18-20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30,32
Filson, B (1994) The new leadership Hospitals & Health Networks “Leadership in Health care” Chicago. Volume: 68 Issue: 17, 1994
Galbraith J R (1977) Organisation Design Reading:Addison-Wesley
Galbraith J R (1977b) The Age of Uncertainty EPS 12:Democracy, Leadership and Commitment UK:BBC Recording(Video)
Gemmill G, and Oakley J, (1992) Leadership: An Alienating Social Myth? Human Relations, 45(2), p113-127
Hart S, and Quinn R (1993) Roles Executives Play:CEO’s, Behavioural Complexity, and Firm Performance Human Ralations, 46, pp543-574
Hitt, W (1995) The Learning Organisation: Some Reflections on Organisational Renewal Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, 16(8), 17 –25
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Limerick, D , Cunnington, B and Crowther, F.(1998) – Managing the New Organisation: Collaboration and Sustainability in the Post- Corporate World, 2nd Edition, Sydney: Business and Professional Publishing
Lupton, T (1971) Management and the Social Sciences, UK: Penguin
OECD (1992) The World Competitiveness Report Geneva: The World Economic Forum
Organic image courtesy of Organic Symbol Accessed 10th September, 2013.
McKereghan D L (1997) “What is leadership?” http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/marquisgranby/34/whatis.html 1997
Question mark image courtesy of: Cool Text Accessed 11th September, 2013.
Rogers, J (1988) New Paradigm Leadership: Integrating the Female Ethos Initiatives,51,Fall, pp1-8
Society image courtesy of Development of society  Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Xin Katherine R. “Leadership” Leadership. Accesseed 10th May, 1997.
Vision blueprint image courtesy of:  Vision Blueprint  Accessed 10th September, 2013.
– ©David L Page 21/03/1999
– updated ©David L Page 12/09/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

International Education Part 3

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) – some considerations

“At the core of education, training and learning lays the education philosophy of the institution, which is then embedded within the curriculum – embedded within the design of the curriculum. Once the curriculum is designed, then the teaching program can be developed, and then the individual lesson plans can be drafted. Designing the curriculum is the starting point of any effective student learning experience. The program should then effectively enable the teacher to facilitate positive and effective learning experiences”(Page 2008).
This blog is a continuation of the  International Education blog. Within that essay I attempted to present two issues. Firstly, that the current Australian tertiary education system, being a product of a euro-western, monoculturalist ideal provides a number of barriers to the effective teaching of a multicultural society that today exists in Australia. This multicultural society includes Non-Native English speakers (NNEs). Ineffective teaching, as suggested can impact the greater society in its’ realisation of macro goals. Given this, we as a society need to re-evaluate the outcomes that we desire, and to make a conscious decision as to whether the current social ideal (euro-western educational system) is to continue. The question I posed was: should we not be attempting to maximise the contribution of all members of society. It is I believe our leader’s responsibility to ensure that education for responsible citizenship – allowing all to assume their rightful, productive position within our community – so that everybody has an important place in society. The second issue that I chose to broach was how we as educational leaders could contribute once we were in a position to develop an educational system that meets the needs of contemporary Australia.
Referencing my tertiary educational institutional experience, I proposed a heuristic educational approach to be adopted. In this approach, the teacher assumes more of a facilitative role, leading the learners to their own self-development, guiding them to greater understanding as to who they are as social members and what they need to learn to become more able to contribute in the contemporary global environment.

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Technology encouraged globalisation

As raised in my first blog  in this series, technological development has been highlighted as having a direct impact on globalisation, particularly the speed with which globalisation is occurring. Globalisation, defined as “a set of conditions in which an increasing fraction of value and wealth is produced and distributed worldwide through a system of interlinking private networks”(OECD in Kelly:1998:1), and its “intensification over recent years owes much to the emergence of means of instantaneous global communication and mass transportation”(Giddens in Taylor et al:1997:55). Since the 1970’s, a world economy has become a valid economic concept (Hobsbawm in Taylor et al:1997:55). However, there are several concerns with such a phenomenon:
Firstly; the spread of the western paradigm through its’ designers and majority of users. This influences the recipient or user of the technology, irrespective of their nationality, with very little regard for the cultural needs of this recipient/learner/user (Page 1998). The western paradigm has been suggested by certain quarters as being behind all that is great in the world at present. Not the least is consumerism. In the 1998 report of the United Nation’s Development Program, the Deputy Director stated “that twenty six per cent of the world’s people account for eighty six per cent of spending for personal consumption. The wealthiest twenty per cent consume forty five per cent of meat and fish, use fifty eight per cent of total energy, own seventy four per cent of all telephone lines and eighty per cent of the world’s vehicles”( Kelly:1998:7). It is this paradigm that is being received around the world to billions of people, irrespective of their socio-economic, educational, cultural or political position. Termed the global monoculture, Norberg-Hodge (1996, 36) highlights the eagerness that so many non –Americanised cultures embrace the symbols of the western perspective – “sunglasses, walkmans, and blue jeans –not because they find those jeans more attractive or comfortable but because they are symbols of modern life”. Yet it is this modern life that comes at such a cost, according to Norberg-Hodge. The most extreme of these is “feeling ashamed of their own (traditional) culture”. Apparently so overpowering is the imagery of the west, that “millions of young people believe contemporary Western culture to be far superior to their own”, irrespective of the harsh realities such as social, psychological, environmental and economic dimensions. Accepted forms of western lifestyle promotion have been movies, pop songs, media mediums and tourism. With the growth of technology, I would suggest that the newest most influential vehicle for the transfer of these symbols is the internet.
Secondly: the degree of technological access equity. That is, the degree of exclusivity that technology brings, given that technology is only available to a specific group of global citizens – those of industrialised economically advanced nations. These nations are also the nations that have embraced the information age. “Technological access allows its’ recipients, its’ learners and its users to become part of the information –based world economy, interacting with the latest information” (Page 1998).  The industrialised economically advanced nations are also the nations that have embraced the information age. Therefore, providing that one doesn’t come from a low socio- economic area of these nations, one is said to have reasonable access potential (OECD in Kelly:1998:2). In contrast, third world nation citizens are said to not have reasonable access potential. Whilst this lack of access may limit the speed and breadth of the spread of the western paradigm, inequitable distribution of  knowledge, is likely to “lead to further disparity across socio-economic, cultural or political spheres” (Page 1998).
Thirdly, the inclusion of technology in learning programs may exclude or negatively impact certain types of learners: learners who have been educated in a specific location, manner or era – that is, in a non–computer or non-self discovery style of learning environment; or they themselves as learners prefer other modalities to a non- discovery style of learning, may not respond well in such a technology embracing institution.

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A Culturally-Biased Curriculum?

It is interesting to note that QRITC management responded to staff and student complaints regarding the issues outlined with the curriculum for the International learners by reciting the following benefits:
(A) the fee-paying learners will benefit from the formalised training , offering them a career path training in what has been considered up until that point a menial (unskilled) task. QRITC management believed these international training opportunities were not available to those learners in their home culture. In the case of the Japanese, there exists a very high barrier to entry for the locals aspiring to have a career in the racing industry. By having other training opportunities outside of Japan has brought into question the real needs of the industry as a whole and provided a platform for discussion of more equitable training needs arrangements. Ritchie puts forward that cross border organising can allow scrutiny and debate over oppressive and elitist practices within particular home cultures (Ritchie:1996:494-500). It would appear that the case in hand has shown that this can be a real outcome.; and,
(B) such a training opportunity allows the development of their international industry. QRITC management believed that the QRITC offered training opportunities to the Japanese racing industry, bringing it in line with current world standards (a) of skill and (b) of global reciprocal training etiquette (Kelly:1998:2). Apparently, it is considered that Japan, whilst benefiting enormously from other nation’s openness of offering input of technical expertise, is slow in reciprocating in the opening up of their market for foreign technical or experiential gain . It is thought by many within the Australian Racing Industry that through education influence over the Japanese to understand the western concept of sharing expertise. Again the cultural assumptions and biases that underpin these statements are very Euro-centric, and imperialistic.
The QRITC curriculum was designed from the paradigm where the client is assumed to meet the learning needs of a specific stereotype: English speaking, moderate level of literacy, both communicatively and technologically, and from a eurocentric cultural background. Obviously, a problem arises when the client being offered this type of course, does not satisfy one or any of these target audience characteristics. As already touched on, cultural relevance is of major concern when dealing with cross border training. Ladson-Billings notes that “for almost 15 years, anthropologists have looked at ways to develop a closer fit between a student’s home culture and the school. This work has had a variety of labels including culturally appropriate, culturally congruent, culturally responsive, and culturally compatible (Ladson-Billings:1995:159). QRITC’s management were open about their imperialistic motive, believing they knew what was both best for the clients and for their home industry.

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Language-Biased Delivery?

A major delivery challenge at QRITC was with the international learners and meeting the client’s language, or lack there of, needs. The clients ranged from low to pre-intermediate proficiency levels of English. In the specific context of QRITC’s nationally accredited program, 6 weeks of English instruction is presented up front. This can only be seen as a token gesture as a much longer time is required for achieving real results. For NNS’s, at that level , 6 weeks is little more than a token effort. It was assumed that the students would acquire, ’on the run’ those skills that they need to achieve. From this I draw two distinctions: (1) from a cultural perspective, little regard was provided to the learners’ needs (ie: their lack of having English as a first language); and (2) little understanding of the linguistic process and lack of consideration was given for how the learners were intending to achieve the competencies.
 With regard to the first point, I believe that this situation arose due to the euro-centric paradigm of the curriculum designers. I met with and discussed in detail with both the curriculum designers and their line managers who were influential in having the program approved and implemented. I found them to be extremely euro-centric in their views. In regards to the second point:  both the curriculum designers and line managers had limited knowledge about the second language acquisition process of our learners, in general and for the specific vocational context. Cope and Kalantzis suggest that as part of remaining competitive in the current global economy,   products need to be redesigned to (re)align them to the particular customer. In their paper on productive diversity, they suggest that this kind of flexibility is necessary in the current times; no matter the product or service that is being offered. Presenting a case example, the products included an example of an educational institution in Sydney, an institution characterised with an an ethnically diverse mix of learners. Cope and Kalantzis (1997, 137) describe what the institution did to attempt to keep and maintain its’ flexibility and competitive advantage.  “The academic staff … at UTS were concerned that the diversity of the student body presented a range of teaching and learning difficulties. Identifying these as issues that needed to be addressed academically has been a critical part of transforming the way the university deals with diversity” (Cope and Kalantzis:1997:137). Nunan found in a recent study of an educational system, institutions were expected to design, implement and evaluate their own curriculum: firstly, identifying the learners’ needs; secondly, selecting and grading syllabus content; thirdly, selecting and creating materials and learning activities (delivered through appropriate resources); fourthly, monitoring and assessing learner progress; and lastly, course evaluation (Nunan:1988:6). “At UTS, people are starting to develop new approaches to their curriculum …….. the very practical need to provide an effective service to a diverse clientele. Product Diversity at UTS means making a new curriculum and establishing new learning relationships” (Cope and Kalantzis:1997:139). Unfortunately, the QRITC experience of applying centralised native speaker (NS) focussed programs in contexts outside of their original intended design, without due consideration of the contextual variances, leave a wake of clients that are either dissatisfied with, or disadvantaged by their experience.

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 Learner Differences

Further to the cultural bias, differences of learner orientation were not given due consideration in the QRITC curriculum. Differences of the diverse learner group such as educational background and therefore educational expectation were not considered. The courses were constructed and delivered without such consideration. Integral in this approach is the euro-centric values and beliefs of the European Australian designers. Attitudes to life, employment, education and learning styles are assumed. Integral to this are one’s own learning experience, the cultural thinking processes of their generation, and their focus of their responsibility as leaders within the educational environment. Success within the QRITC management system is measured in terms of governmental accountability, political demands, and industry expected outcomes. Of course, this approach is underpinned by western values and beliefs. The degree of success therefore of those whose learning style falls outside this western accepted way is dependant upon the degree that these non-westernised learners are prepared to or can assimilate a particular learning style as their own learning style. By doing this, the learners are forced to adapt to the western accepted way in order to succeed.
The extent of learner learning style differenceneed not only vary between obvious culturally diverse groups, such as Asian, indigenous to western; but also between various sub-cultural groups within the one culture, such as male and female learners and learning styles, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and digital learners and learning styles, irrespective of the learner’s cultural traditions. Howard Gardner (1994), a well regarded contemporary proponent of learning styles, recently wrote:
              “We are not all the same; we do not all have the same kinds of minds, education works most effectively for most individuals if these differences in mentation and strengths are taken into account rather that denied or ignored”.
At its most fundamental, learning theory proposes that individuals possess a unique combination of personality traits, perceptual differences and cognitive tendencies form a particular type or style ( Myers and McCaulley 1985), and there are certain learning strategies related to type or style. Research on styles suggests that different learners need different modes of assistance. Concrete-sequential learners need to be told what to do and exactly how to do it, whereas intuitive learners want to find their own answers. Thinking – feeling oriented learners want factual feedback, whereas feeling – oriented learners want greater emotional support. Knowing about styles, especially as they relate to the assistance needed by the learners, would certain enable the trainer to provide an effective learning environment Therefore, a congruent learning approach, a multicultural approach that satisfies the learning objectives of a much broader population base is desired.
A holistic approach to learning via a more inclusive curriculum is desirable for a diverse learner group. A more holistic curriculum that does not overlook the learner’s cultural background has been shown to have great benefit for the learner. Armstrong, Cummins, Gardner and Freire show the benefits of a relevant, culturally-specific educational approach and what can be achieved. All learners should be provided with a range of teaching pedagogy that addresses a range of learning styles. Students have preferred learning styles, different levels of skill, and varied outside responsibilities.  Individual differences need to be addressed in curriculum design. Individual differences theory suggest that learners learn in different ways and that no single styles of teaching is useful to all. As Brand (1998, 50) reinforces, programs designed for technological development can be effective when programming offers flexibility and not based on a one size fits all philosophy.

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Teacher Training

 With the ongoing trend of an increase in the number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers studying within Australian Tertiary Institutions, training needs to be provided to all teacher and lecturers to ensure both their pedagogy and their curriculum design is inclusive of the broader range of multicultural clientele participating in their courses. Educators and administrators are continually extended to find methods to prepare teachers adequately for the range of demands they may experience in the classroom. Adequate training can better prepare teachers for the teaching and learning environment, positively affecting the student’s learning experience and the degree to which these students can ultimately integrate and contribute in society beyond the tertiary course. inclusion of technology in the classroom. Large investments in equipment and mass educator training sessions have been the trend as schools focus on producing technologically literate students. Generally, administrators focus on cost effective group -oriented delivery systems, while teachers are primarily concerned with skill building, level of competency, and relevant classroom application.
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Additional to the cultural training needs, administrators and educators agree that present methods of teacher training fail to produce the desired outcome of valid integration of technology into the curriculum (Persky:1989:25). While current technologies expand to include electronic resource sharing, distance learning and interactive video, many educators do not yet have the basic skills necessary to produce a document on a word processor or manage grades on a computerised system (Persky:1989:29). As Nunan suggests, teachers use a range of content, methods and resources that are suitable for different environments, inline with the specific needs of the group (Nunan:1991:228-248). For teachers, courses and modules within teacher education programmes need to be developed. The need for educators to know how to use the computer to accomplish daily tasks is becoming crucial, and demands for computer training are growing.

 Educational Organisation Ancilliary Services

To overcome the lack of teacher efficiencies, many schools and organisations have taken to employing technology in order to offset and improve upon the cost of having teacher manned classrooms or resource spaces. As a result there has been a trend recently amongst educational institutions to develop their Information Technology (IT) team by employing the services of IT specialists with the view to advising their Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) needs. QRITC followed this trend and employed a part-time off-site IT specialist.   Management then expected this part-time IT specialist to maintain the institute’s hardware and software,  as well as assist teachers with the use of technology in the classroom. I observed the scope of duties and the minimal support offered to the specialist IT staff often overwhelmed them. Teachers who are determined to advance their skills, or who already have computer background, benefit from the presence of a part-time specialist. However, there were a number of other staff who did not possess significant computer experience, or were also suffering from a degree of anxiety towards using technology in the classroom. A possible solution QRITC could have considered would have been to employ the services of a full-time site-based specialist to have more time on-site to assist staff and students with the IT issues – operational and user-based . A full-time technology support perhaps could have provided the teachers time to learn and consider how they could implement technology in the school. While the teacher is responsible for teacher education and support, part of their professional function needs to also allow for them being trained in a range of appropriate technology, followed by time to research contemporary views on application in a CAL environment. A full-time site-based IT specialist could also advise as to what equipment may be appropriate given findings of the research and an applied analysis of the needs of that educational department in that particular organisation. Such a a full-time site-based IT specialist could become an important ancillary service to the educational department, working with and assisting the teacher to establish both a technologically appropriate solution to meet the specific educational organisational needs.
However, QRITC decided to purchase a large amount of IT equipment without the benefit of a site-based specialist or active interaction, research, analysis and discussion of the specific educational organisational needs. Unfortunately, what I observed as a result 18 months after the initial IT purchase,was a heavily IT resourced  education department with much of the equipment not able to function properly due to the lack of appropriate systems in place to support that IT system. Additionally, much of the technology was being used in a very limited capacity from a CAL pedagogical point of view. I believe the situation I observed  occurred due to the lack of planning, research and engagement of the staff and learners by the QRITC management and the education leaders in the decision-making process to determine an effective and valid solution to the specific issues within the QRITC learning environment.  QRITC teaching staff were not provided training in a range of appropriate technology; teaching staff were not invited into the discussion regarding the challenges they were experiencing in the multi-cultural learning environments; teaching staff were not invited or encouraged to investigate CAL pedagogy;  and consider a range of options that may address the specific issues within the QRITC learning environment. Given this, I wonder on what basis QRITC management and the education leaders decided to purchase the large amount of IT equipment? Was the equipment  a technologically appropriate solution to meet the specific educational organisational needs?  A summary of the equipment and services bought follows: 16 Pentium terminals for the students, 3 for the instructors, 2 servers, a CD stacker, modem, printers, Internet access, as well as a broad range of software and the appropriate site licences. The dollar cost of purchase of this equipment was approximately $68,000. Additional costs included the cost of installation, setting up of both Computer Aided Learning (CAL) and Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) software, the customising of these, and maintenance of the system once installed. This included assigning a budget to external consultants and sub-contractors over a 12 –18 month period. Such expenditure represented a significant outlay to the educational institution, and with any investment, it would have been reassuring to know that accompanying this significant investigation, there was robust discussion, research and consideration of multiple options; taking into account the educational context, the learners and their expected outcomes, the educational philosophy of the institute, and ofcourse, the design of the curriculum.
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Global Educational Model to Change

Today, the use of technology has quickly grown beyond the realm of luxury. There are few schools and classrooms that do not have access to various technologies ranging from VCR’s to computers and satellite communications. In this essay, I have attempted to highlight the  show that the use of Computer Technology as a means of counterbalancing the perpetuating of outmoded parameters. It is a trend that has the potential to change the form, the delivery and influence the content of the curriculum. However, as shown in the QRITC example, it also brings with it its own set of shortcomings. These need to be carefully considered prior to widespread embrace. Like all technological development, its real strength is in its’ application as a tool in the process of a specific context; not as a means unto itself, but merely as a tool. And as with any tool, the usefulness of a tool is based upon how appropriate the tool is for that specific function; and how well one has been taught to use it. With the increasing development and availability of technology, a systematic restructuring of schools is occuring to meet the technology needs of the organisation, and also to better equip the teachers for integrating technology effectively, into the learning environment.  Whilst I would hope that technology is embraced as a potential avenue to support the learning of their students, organisational strategies need to be developed to ensure appropriate levels of access for all those involved – namely teachers and students – are facilitated. Central to this restructuring effort and facilitating access is the professional development of teachers. In America President Clinton has put the challenge to the whole nation:
             ” In schools, every classroom in America must be connected to the information super highway with computer and good software and well-trained teachers”. President Bill Clinton (Bush and Terry :1997:263)
Only through extensive preservice and inservice activities will teachers acquire the understanding, skills and confidence they need to use technology in their classroom and prepare their students for an information based society. I will now outline an approach that QRITC could take in their restructuring and ensuring appropriate levels of access are facilitated .
developing-a-lo

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) Teacher Training

Once the curriculum has been designed for optimal learning experience, the “program should then effectively enable the teacher to facilitate positive and effective learning experiences”(Page 2008).
The pedagogy that the teacher chooses for a particular training workshop will influence the learning experience of the participants. In contemporary computer teacher training, there are currently two distinct approaches. The first approach includes both concentrated and generic workshops. Concentrated workshops are workshops where volume of content and information is offered, but little time is allocated for tasks where the participants can practice and absorb that content. A generic workshop on the other hand may focus on general application and offer little information that can be applied to a specific content area.
An alternate approach in contemporary computer teacher training workshops is described by Owen (1992) as hardware-centred and teacher – centred. Hardware – centred workshops are courses where students learn to use computers and new technologies through a series of focused lessons and activities. The distinguishing feature of this course as distinct from the alternative, is that the instruction and outcomes focus on the technology and its application in general and broad terms. In the teacher – centred approach, instruction and activity in information technologies is given in the context of existing programmes and the technology is used as a means to an end.
Regardless of the pedagogical approaches to these workshop, research reveals five keys to successful training:
1) Sherwood purports that one of the major barriers experience by teachers in the process of integrating technology, is the lack of time. Teachers must have substantial time to acquire and, in turn, transfer to the classroom the knowledge learnt. Although training and development time varies according to individuals, Guhlin (1996) states the time required is whatever satisfies a teacher’s need for exploratory learning. Teachers need considerable training and development so that they are firstly empowered in their own skill level before they can transfer that into the classroom.
2) The second key to successful training is differing levels proficiency of the participants must be addressed. Each group is made up of individual with skill levels varying from none at all to highly proficient. Fast-paced, group-oriented in-service sessions therefore, do not enhance learning. It offers useful information to small number of trainees. Training therefore must begin at a skill level of the educators to ensure success. As often the case in adult second language learning, intelligence is equated with the level of proficiency in the language. So it comes to be assume that elementary students are not as intelligent as the advanced level students are. This assumption of course has no basis, and teachers who do toy with the idea soon realise the error of their ways. In computer training a parallel scenario would be that a trainer equates the level of technical knowledge to intelligence. Level of anxiety and stress is usually high at the beginner level and it would be up to the trainer to help the learners overcome the anxiety and stress.
3) The third key is that a vast majority of time should be spent actively working with technology, in small groups and individually. Learning a skill requires active interaction with people and things, requirement that is not satisfied by passively watching and listening to a presentation. In an article title Restructuring for Learning with Technology: The potential for Synergy, Karen Sheigold writes:
                          ”Effective learning hinges on the active engagement of students in constructing their own knowledge and understanding. Such learning is not a solitary practice; it occurs through interaction with support from the world of people and objects” (1991,19)
4) The fourth key to successful training is that the training session should focus on functionality rather than newness and complexity with regard to hardware and software tools. Less complex software and hardware is often superior for beginner projects because it can be learned more quickly.
5) Ritchie and Wilburg (1994) state that skills and knowledge gained in workshops frequently are not transferred to professional activity because of the lack of on going assistance and development. Coaching or mentoring is one approach that can be used to sustain the cognitive momentum created through workshops as teachers explore implementing new skills and knowledge into their teaching. Novice users of technology can be paired with more experienced users, who act as mentors. Mentors assist their partners by clarifying concepts, discussing problem areas and collaboration to find workable solutions, and tutoring in the use of hardware and software. Through this process, novice teachers gain confidence in their ability to thoughtfully integrate technology in their teaching. When an expert teacher provides the instruction, the teacher- learners also have a benchmark for measuring their own progress.
If technology is to be used by students, then teacher confidence, understanding, skill to effectively incorporate technology into their teaching practices. This will only occur by providing adequate training and development. So far technology has had little impact on a significant number of classrooms. Educators will continue to respond negatively to the introduction of computer assisted learning. In America The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in America now includes a set of standards for educational technology. The standards recommend that every teacher acquire a set of foundation skills and concepts related to technology, regardless of the teacher’s area of specialisation. These standards includes ability of perform tasks and demonstrate various skills on the basic computer programs to multimedia and hypermedia . It would seem logical to assume that the Australian body for teacher accreditation would do the same. School and governments will continue to invest billions of dollars in the latest hardware and software, but their goals and measurable educational improvements will continue to fall short unless they realistically invest in their most important resource, their teachers. The lack of effectiveness of technology training for educators has been a major deterrent in the implementation of technology resources in the classroom. Universities are graduating teachers with minimal computer training. Glenn and Carrier agree that educators are entering the classroom lacking sufficient skills and exposure to use technology. “Since information systems become more complex and change rapidly, teachers are handicapped even before they start” (1986, 68).

Conclusion

In this essay, I have discussed a number of considerations when educational institutions explore the idea of offering computer assisted learning (CAL) with the vision of enhancing the student learning experience.
 Whilst technology is rapidly developing world-wide, there is a cost to this technology that may be a barrier to entry for certain persons or cultures within nations where such a cost is prohibitive. Additionally, certain cultures or lifestyles may not allow for the dependencies of computer technology such as power and land lines for internet access (eg: nomadic cultures).  So whilst we in a developed western nation have broad access to computer technology, it would be false to assume that is the case for every person in every nation, and therefore a CAL program offered to a range of nationalities may have diverse levels of previous experience with that technology. I then examined how curriculum needed to be designed with a particular learner in mind, to avoid a common error in my experience where the curriculum encompassed very particular and specific cultural bias that excluded certain learners, rather than being inclusive. Extending this point, certain curriculum is biased towards a particular language (in the examples provided English), and this too could be an overlooked design feature that excludes certain learners, rather than including them.
Following I discussed how diverse each learner can potentially be, even within one cultural,  language group or gender. Learning theory has found learners favouring either visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or digital0based learners irrespective of the learner’s cultural traditions. Other influences were also noted to be one’s generation and style of education they experienced within their compulsory education as a child and adolescent. This has implications for teacher training with regard to both the multicultural awareness of the brooding ethnic mix within Australian’s institutions, but also the broadening of the teacher’s pedagogy to be inclusive of a greater range of learning styles.
Further, with the advancement of technology, computer assisted learning (CAL) needs to be both philosophically and pedagogically  considered by an educational organisational team to ensure that they can meet the specific learning outcomes of that particular organisation. To not do such, may result in a large expenditure of the organisation’s budget for little benefit to the education department – the teacher’s, the learners and their learning outcomes. IT support is a crucial functional role in this process, to assist with both purchasing, installing and maintaining the hardware, but also with the training of the staff in extended use of the technology. With technological advancement, it is recognised that future generations will have increasing levels of computer technology in their lives; and therefore it is essential to commence planning for computer assisted learning (CAL) across all learning platforms. With this however, management of educational organisations must accept and embrace this pending era by providing adequate levels of teacher training programs. It is only through extensive preservice and inservice activities that  teachers will acquire the understanding, skills and confidence they need to use technology in their classroom and prepare their students for an information based society. I concluded my essay outlining two alternate approaches that QRITC could take in their facilitation of effective computer assisted learning, highlighting five keys to ensure that the most effective training can take place.
Bibliography
Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. ELT Journal, 58, 125-129.
Aviram, A (1996) The Decline of the Modern Paradigm in Education. International Review of Education, 42(5),421;423 – 443
Baerwald, T J (1987) Thirteen Tips for Teaching Geography in any Setting. Journal of Teacher Education, 86, 165 -167
Birch, B. (1996). Aspects of Peace Education Which Should Concern Writers of ESL Materials. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Chicago.
Blanton, L. L. (1992). A Holistic Approach to College ESL: Integrating Language and Content. ELT Journal, 46, 285-293.
Bragaw, D. H. (1991) Priority: Curriculum. The Global Imperative and Its’ Metalanguage. Foreign Language Annuals. April, 115-124.
Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching Global Iinterdependence as a Subversive Activity. Paper presented at the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics.Washington, DC.
Crandall, J. (1993). Content-Centered Language Learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 13, 111-126.
Critical multiculturalism image courtesy of Critical Multiculturalism Accessed 15th October 2013
Cummins, J. (1986). Empowering Minority Students: A Framework for Intervention. Harvard Educational Review, 56, 18-36.
Development:A Case Study. TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol 23, No 1.ppg-25.
Dorman, W. A. (1992, August). The Not So Odd Couple: Critical Thinking and Global Education. Paper presented at the annual international conference for critical thinking and moral critique. Rohnert Park, CA.
Drake, C. (1987). Educating for Responsible Global Citizenship. Journal of Geography, 86, 300-306.
Drucker,PF, Dyson,E Handy, C, Saffo,P and Senge, PM (1997). Looking Ahead:Implications of the Present Harvard Business Review, Sept- Oct,pp18 –20
Elder, P., & Carr, M. A. (1987). Worldways: Bringing the World into the Classroom. Menlo Park (CA): Addison-Wesley.
Erickson, F. (1997). Culture in Society and in Educational Practices. In J.A. Banks and C.A. McGee-Banks, (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and Perspectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Fekete, J. (Ed.) (1988), Life After Postmodernism: Essays on Value and Culture, London, MacMillan.
Freeman, D., Freeman, Y., & Gonzales, G. (1987). Success for ESP students: The Sunnyside sheltered English program. TESOL Quarterly, 21, 361-67.
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic Books.
Glenn, A.D. and Carrier, C.A., (1986). Teacher education and computer training: An assessment. Peabody Journal of Education64(1), pp.67-80.
Global Society image courtesy of Development of society  Accessed 15th October 2013
Goldberg, D.T. (1994). Introduction: Multicultural conditions. In D.T. Goldberg, Multiculturalism: A critical reader. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers
Grant, C.A. and Sleeter, C.E. (1986). Education Equity: Education That Is Multicultural and Social Reconstructionist. Journal of Education Equity and Leadership, 6. 105-118.
Harris, R. and Schutte, R. (1985), A Review of Competency-Based Occupational Education, in P. Mountney and P.S.Mageean (Eds) Issues in TAFE, Payneham, SA, TAFE National Centre for Research and Development, pp 43-65.
Hanvey, R. G. (1982). An Attainable Global Perspective. Theory into Practice, 21, 162-67.
Knoebel M, and Lankshear, C (1994) Learning Genres:Prospects For Empowerment. QUT:Brisbane
Ladson-Billings, G (1995) But that’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 159 – 165
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Macedo, D. (1994). Literacies of power: What Americans are not allowed to know. Boulder: Westview Press.
McCarthy, C. and Crichlow, (1993) Race, Identity and Representation in Education. New York: Routledge.
London, K. (1988). Global Peace Begins In Our Classrooms. The Language Teacher, 12(2), 21-35.
Merryfield, M. M. (1993). Reflective Practice In Global Education Strategies For Teacher Educators. Theory into Practice, 32, 27-32.
Merryfield, M. M. (1994). Teacher education in global and international education. Washington, DC: AACTE Publications.
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Nunan, D. (1985). Toward a Collaborative Approach to Curriculum
Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (1995). The Common Curriculum: Policies and Outcomes, Grades 1-9. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.
Page, David (2008). Educational Philosophy Part 1 Accessed 15th October 2013
Page, David (1998). International Education Part 1 Accessed 15th October 2013
Parkinson, L and OSullivan,K. (1990). Negotiating The Learner Centered Curriculum. In Brindley,G.(ed). 1990. The Second Language Curriculum In Action. Sydney:NCELT.
Peaty, D. (1995). Environmental Issues. Tokyo: Macmillan Language House.
Sessoms, I. (1994). A Conceptual Model of Infusing Multicultural Curriculum In Various Academic Disciplines in Higher Education. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association Multicultural Education, Detroit.
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Tye, K. A., & Kniep, W. M. (1991). Global education around the world. Educational Leadership, 48, 47-49.
Urch, G. E. (1992). Global Education: The Time Is Now. Educational Horizons, 71, 15-17.
Wahlstrom, M. A., & Clarken, R. H. (1992). Preparing Teachers For Education That Is Multicultural and Global. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.
Wallerstein, N. (1983). Language and Culture in Conflict: Problem-Posing in the ESL Classroom. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Wenden, A. L. (1992). Peace Education: What and Why. TESOL Matters, 2(1), 1-6.
Yoshimura, M. (1993). Teaching Global Issues to Children. The Language Teacher, 17(5), 11-15.
– ©David L Page 20/11/1998
– updated ©David L Page 16/10/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

International Education Part 2

International Learners Studying in Australia

curriculum-design

There is a growing number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers within the Australian Tertiary sector. Figures obtained from 3 Australian Tertiary Institutions shows an overall increase in the number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers studying within Australian over the past 10 years. The environs of the Australian Tertiary Institution therefore is one of a multicultural nature. I intend to show that Australian Tertiary Institutions, in teaching to a multicultural clientele in a traditional Éuro-western manner are disregarding the cultural heritage and therefore the needs of these NNEs participating in the course. This then impacts the degree to which these students can integrate and contribute in society.

multiculturalism-_diversity

I will firstly give the historical development as to how these barriers came to exist, followed by the consequences of this. I have then made some suggestions for leaders, social and educational to assist in the process. Cultural hegemony is defined by Erickson as “the established view of things — a commonsense view of what is and why things happen that serves the interests of those people already privileged in a society” (1997: 49). Education is a very effective vehicle for achieving either the empowerment or exclusion of individuals or groups in society (Knoebel & Lankshear:1994:5). The many facets of life which are adversely affected by a hegemonic social order include the political, the economic, the social, the psychological, the personal, and beyond. For the purposes of this discussion on why and how multiculturalism is currently embraced — seeing as it is illogical to assume that any facet of life can be separated from another — all of these aspects inform education, broadly, and pedagogy, specifically.
Goldberg offers a history of the monocultural ideal which fostered the present-day need for a multicultural vision of society. He claims that in the late nineteenth century, monoculturalism emerged as an institutional ideology which served to create the impression of an intellectual tradition where there was none. By the mid-twentieth century, this Western European monocultural ideal, cemented in other ‘Westernised’ nations as hegemonic intellectual and institutional practice, “reflected and reproduced the lines of ethnoracialized demarcation” in order to keep them “white” (1994: 4). As political, technological, and economic interests became global links between countries, cultural hegemony spread beyond the borders of the Western European countries and other Westernised’ nations, such as the United States and Australia. With the creation of the “Third World” order by “First World” dominance and domination, Goldberg suggests that monocultural assumptions and prescriptions abounded for those in the “Third World” who were thought unable to think and act for themselves (1994:4). As monoculturalism universalizes the values, traditions, and language of a single culture while marginalizing and pathologizing all others, in a multicultural society, monoculturalism is absolutely equal to cultural hegemony.
In Australia, monoculturalism was and continues to be operationalised through assimilation. McCarthy (1993) claims that at the turn of the century, assimilationist ideology grew out of a Euro-Western response to the increasing presence of immigrants who were a potential threat to the established Euro-Western monocultural social order. Assimilation was thus a means of giving up one’s “un-European” or “ethnic” culture in order to embrace that dictated by the monocultural interpretation (Goldberg: 1994: 4). This is what blending into the melting pot, in essence, becoming a part of the mainstream, entails — the renunciation of “one’s subjectivity in name, culture, and as far as possible, colour” (Goldberg: 1994: 5). Power in Euro-Western society belongs to those who continue to define values monoculturally, and thus everything is shaped to serve their interests.
With the advent of the 1960s, those who were continually forced to assimilate — all the “others” as defined by the mainstream — began to assert themselves politically and culturally (Goldberg: 1994: 5-6). Due to demographic shifts and social movements, the 1960’s signalled a shift from the ideal of assimilation to one of integration. Integration, according to Goldberg, gave ethnic groups control of their private lives at the margins while continuing to define central values monoculturally (1994: 6). The monocultural centre of Australian life was not challenged very much by small groups attempting to integrate. Even with political and cultural acknowledgment at the margins, however, the “others” continued to be economically oppressed (1994: 6). The fact that ethnic groups were starving for economic and cultural inclusion, “insurgent cultural expressions” could be either suppressed or diluted through the “tokenism of economic and cultural appropriation” (1994: 6). That is, with the offer of a mainstream, middle class lifestyle, the “Others” who made too much noise were quieted down.
critical-multiculturalism
In response to the history of rejection, assimilation, integration, and subjugation, Goldberg claims that multiculturalism and commitments to cultural diversity have emerged which are resistant to monoculturalism (1994: 7). Macedo sees multiculturalism as calling into question “Western cultural hegemony and the barbarism Western cultures committed against other cultural groups in the name of ‘civilising’ the ‘barbaric’ other” (1994: 39). The fact that a multicultural ideal has been able to surface is proof that White patriarchal supremacy, which silences and subjugates others, no longer has the magnitude of power that it once enjoyed. “It is an educational imperative that we recognise that in the late 20th century, the needs of humanity to transcend cultural difference or national borders as we share a common future” (Merryfield:1994: 7). Multicultural society, viewed as an aggregation of individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds, is now faced with a challenge: developing an educational system that reflects it’s societal needs. The current era, characterised by an aging middle class population, leaving a smaller percentage of the population to generate the economic needs to fund the society (Drucker et al:1997:19), requires all ‘productive’ members of society as fully functioning, independent contributors. For its very survival, it needs for all society, irrespective of cultural background to be able to access relevant and appropriate education.
Ladson-Billings notes that “for almost 15 years, anthropologists have looked at ways to develop a closer fit between a student’s home culture and the school. This work has had a variety of labels including culturally appropriate, çulturally congruent, culturally responsive, and culturally compatible (Ladson-Billings:1995:159). Bartolome in Ladson-Billings “has argued for a humanising pedagogy that respects and uses the reality, history, and perspectives of students as an integral part of educational perspective (1994:173)” (Ladson-Billings:1995:160). 3 criteria underpins culturally relevant pedagogy: “(a) Students must experience academic success; (b) students must develop and/or maintain cultural competance; and (c) students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order” (Ladson-Billings:1995:160). An integral part of the success of such a program is the ‘methodology’ that the teaching staff adopt. “The teachers kept the relations between themselves and their students fluid and equitable”. Displaying a participative approach, “they encourage the students to act as teachers, and they themselves often functioned as learners in the classroom”. ”For these teachers, knowledge is continuously recreated, recycled and shared by the teachers and the students. Thus, they were not dependant on state curriculum frameworks or textbooks to decide what and how to teach”. As a result, “the teachers exhibited a passion about what they were teaching – showing enthusiasm and vitality about what was being taught and learned”. “..the students came to them with skill deficiencies, the teachers worked to help the students build bridges or scaffolding so that they could be proficient in the more challenging work they experienced in the classroom” (Ladson-Billings:1995:163).
learning-philosophy
The function of education, it is said, is to maximize the human capital value of persons, in the most effective and efficient manner, for the pursuit of their individual and collective goals within a utilitarian framework (Harris & Schutte:1985:45). Educational quality is thus defined in terms of this function – that is, the effective and efficient attainment of such ends. Any assessment of the educational quality of a program therefore requires that it be done in terms of that program’s effectiveness and efficiency as a means of attaining the specified ends – the attainment of desired ends in terms of educational costs. ‘Indicators’ of educational success or performance must therefore focus either directly on individual educational gains, or indirectly on the consequential market outcomes (such as employment gains or reduced criminality). However, those performance indicators that focus on educational procedures (such as the attainment of targets for the representation of ethnic minorities in educational programs) are therefore seen as only temporary measures to offset the distorting effects of past ethnic discrimination. The ideal free market in education requires only outcome measures: truly outcomes-driven education (Harris & Schutte:1985:47).

british-journal-of-edcuational-studies

Therefore, the maximization of educational effectiveness requires, most importantly:
  1. the prior specification of the intended educational outcomes (as goals or objectives) or their consequences;
  2. the management of the ensuing education in such a way as to maximize the attainment of those desired ends ;and
  3. the evaluation of that education and its entailed learning in such a way as to assess the extent to which the desired ends have been realised in actual educational outcomes or their consequences Harris & Schutte:1985:48).
Given this then, we as a society must reevaluate what outcomes that it is desirous of. Aviram is of the opinion that for this repositioning to occur, a social evolution with the stripping of old parameters is necessary. It would need for the organisation of social beings to be different to that which it is currently. It would need for the definitions of organisations to be changed, causing “the organisation to be regarded as a different organisation”(1996:426). Aviram suggests that the aims, target audience, organisational activities, organisational structure and methods need to be synergised into new constructs. These models developed could then “pave the way for a new educational paradigm”, indicating the starting point of the “new educational world” (1996:435).  Teaching Non-Native speakers via a more inclusive curriculum; via a more wholistic curriculum that doesn’t take Euro – Western cultural background, understanding and performance expectation for granted. Yes, a change to the current way of delivering education. To deny an active, productive group within the society of relevant educational knowledge and understanding, is to deny them the opportunity to take their rightful place as social contributors, and to deny the rest of society the opportunity to as a collective, to fulfill our economic aspirations. A multiculturally congruent approach: an approach that satisfies the learning objectives of a much broader population base then is required. To help students become responsible social citizens, teachers should strive to educate students in a more pro-active manner. This can be achieved by a heuristic approach. This would in turn direct the student’s learning by choosing the content relevant to their needs. To achieve the difficult goal of creating independent, thoughtful students choose their content with great care and consideration. The truism about today’s youth becoming tomorrow’s leaders demands education about global issues.
In my experience, differences in learner orientation such as educational background and therefore educational expectation are not given due consideration in the way courses that are offered to culturally diverse groups are being constructed and delivered. Incorporate in this approach are the eurocentric values and beliefs of the European Australian context of its’ design/designers. Attitudes to life, employment, education and learning styles are assumed. Integral to this are cultural thinking processes and a perception of one’s community responsibilities.
learning-philosophy
By doing this, clients and participants are forced to adapt to the western accepted way in order to succeed, or not. The degree of success therefore of those whose learning style falls outside this western accepted way is dependant upon them assimilating this method as their own learning style. Furthermore, this successful learning culture need not only vary between obvious culturally diverse groups, such as Asian, Indigenous to Western; but also between various sub- cultural groups within the one culture, such as male and female learners/learning styles, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and digital learners/learning styles, irrespective/in addition to the learner’s cultural traditions. For a fully functioning society, the development of human resources could be argued as being of paramount importance. Participation is already acknowledged as an important characteristic of the new order, with a more wholistic, self-understanding, heuristic approach complimenting this way. Armstrong, 1994; Cummins, 1986; Gardner, 1993; and Freire, 1972 show the benefits of a relevant, empowering educational approach and what can be achieved within their community. Whilst the teacher acts more in the vain of a facilitator, they guide the learners to what education they need, the kinds of processes they need to acquire and which global issues could be covered.
Within the tertiary context of my experience, my students create a foundation that covers the basic issues of how the course will be run. Students often plan to research a small number of global topics deeply, and decide their assessment collectively. With students making plans relatively independently, they discover the intrinsic importance of the human rights or environmental issues they choose to study. In order to be sure of the quality of the course, various forms of continual feedback can be drawn upon. Encouraging students to make responsible decisions, demands that as teachers we trust our students: to trust our students as learned recipients of an empowering process. Students empowered to create a peaceful, tolerant, and sustainable environment in the community of their classroom are naturally better prepared to create the same environment in the world itself. Beginning university students irrespective of their cultural background may never have been encouraged to think about global issues before. More importantly, university graduates might never have the chance again. Widespread ignorance of global issues among first year university students is hardly surprising, but it can be cured.
As a university teacher, I feel responsible for demonstrating a meaningful connection between my students’ lives and issues of global significance. For those university ESL teachers who would like to “inject” global ideas into their classes, suggestions have been made by Baerwald (1987), Birch (1996), Crandall (1993), Dorman, (1992), Elder and Carr (1987), Sessoms (1994), Wahlstrom and Clarken (1992), and Wenden (1992). Although they represent a wide variety of disciplines, all these educators advocate “superimposing” (London, 1991, p. 22) global issues throughout the curriculum. As a university teacher, I have used research and trial and error to develop ways to infuse global issues into every university language-learning classroom. Keeping Freire’s (1972) ideas about leaving crucial decisions up to the learner in mind, I have found learners willing to be led in their learning self-responsibility and in the development of their global awareness. I would have liked to offer some specifics about the teacher’s role in this process, but the limits of this essay prevent me from doing it here. I have then made some suggestions for leaders, social and educational to assist in the process.

Conclusion

Within this essay I have attempted to present two issues. Firstly, that the current Australian tertiary education system, being a product of a euro-western, monoculturalist ideal provides a number of barriers to the effective teaching of a multicultural society that today exists in Australia. This multicultural society includes Non-Native English speakers (NNEs). Ineffective teaching, as suggested can impact the greater society in its’ realisation of macro goals. Given this, we as a society need to reevaluate the outcomes that we desire, and to make a conscious decision as to whether the current social ideal (euro-western educational system) is to continue. The question I  pose is: should we not be attempting to maximise the contribution of all members of society. It is I believe our leader’s responsibility to ensure that education for responsible citizenship – allowing all to assume their rightful, productive position within our community – so that everybody has an important place in society. The second issue that I chose to broach was how we as educational leaders could contribute once we were in a position to develop an educational system that meets the needs of contemporary Australia.
With reference to my tertiary educational institutional experience, I propose a heuristic educational approach to be adopted. In this approach, the teacher assumes more of a facilitative role, leading the learners to their own self-development, guiding them to greater understanding as to who they are as social members and what they need to learn to become more able to contribute in the contemporary global environment.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with International Education Part 3.
Bibliography
Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. ELT Journal, 58, 125-129.
Aviram, A (1996) The Decline of the Modern Paradigm in Education. International Review of Education, 42(5),421;423 – 443
Baerwald, T J (1987) Thirteen Tips for Teaching Geography in any Setting. Journal of Teacher Education, 86, 165 -167
Birch, B. (1996). Aspects of Peace Education Which Should Concern Writers of ESL Materials. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Chicago.
Blanton, L. L. (1992). A Holistic Approach to College ESL: Integrating Language and Content. ELT Journal, 46, 285-293.
Bragaw, D. H. (1991) Priority: Curriculum. The Global Imperative and Its’ Metalanguage. Foreign Language Annuals. April, 115-124.
Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching Global Iinterdependence as a Subversive Activity. Paper presented at the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics.Washington, DC.
Crandall, J. (1993). Content-Centered Language Learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 13, 111-126.
Critical multiculturalism image courtesy of Critical Multiculturalism Accessed 15th October 2013
Cummins, J. (1986). Empowering Minority Students: A Framework for Intervention. Harvard Educational Review, 56, 18-36.
Dorman, W. A. (1992, August). The Not So Odd Couple: Critical Thinking and Global Education. Paper presented at the annual international conference for critical thinking and moral critique. Rohnert Park, CA.
Drake, C. (1987). Educating for Responsible Global Citizenship. Journal of Geography, 86, 300-306.
Drucker,PF, Dyson,E Handy, C, Saffo,P and Senge, PM(1997). Looking Ahead:Implications of the Present Harvard Business Review, Sept- Oct,pp18 –20
Elder, P., & Carr, M. A. (1987). Worldways: Bringing the World into the Classroom. Menlo Park (CA): Addison-Wesley.
Erickson, F. (1997). Culture in Society and in Educational Practices. In J.A. Banks and C.A. McGee-Banks, (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and Perspectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Fekete, J. (Ed.) (1988), Life After Postmodernism: Essays on Value and Culture, London, MacMillan.
Freeman, D., Freeman, Y., & Gonzales, G. (1987). Success for ESP students: The Sunnyside sheltered English program. TESOL Quarterly, 21, 361-67.
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic Books.
Goldberg, D.T. (1994). Introduction: Multicultural conditions. In D.T. Goldberg, Multiculturalism: A critical reader. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers
Grant, C.A. and Sleeter, C.E. (1986). Education Equity: Education That Is Multicultural and Social Reconstructionist. Journal of Education Equity and Leadership, 6. 105-118.
Harris, R. and Schutte, R. (1985), A Review of Competency-Based Occupational Education, in P. Mountney and P.S.Mageean (Eds) Issues in TAFE, Payneham, SA, TAFE National Centre for Research and Development, pp 43-65.
Hanvey, R. G. (1982). An Attainable Global Perspective. Theory into Practice, 21, 162-67.
Knoebel M, and Lankshear, C (1994) Learning Genres:Prospects For Empowerment. QUT:Brisbane
Ladson-Billings, G (1995) But that’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 159 – 165
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership  Accessed 15th October 2013
Learning Philosophy image courtesy of:  Learning  Accessed 15th October 2013
Macedo, D. (1994). Literacies of power: What Americans are not allowed to know. Boulder: Westview Press.
McCarthy, C. and Crichlow, (1993) Race, Identity and Representation in Education. New York: Routledge.
London, K. (1988). Global Peace Begins In Our Classrooms. The Language Teacher, 12(2), 21-35.
Merryfield, M. M. (1993). Reflective Practice In Global Education Strategies For Teacher Educators. Theory into Practice, 32, 27-32.
Merryfield, M. M. (1994). Teacher education in global and international education. Washington, DC: AACTE Publications.
Nunan,D. 1985. Toward a Collaborative Approach to Curriculum
Development:A Case Study. TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol 23, No 1.ppg-25.
Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (1995). The Common Curriculum: Policies and Outcomes, Grades 1-9. Toronto: Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.
Multicultural Diversity image courtesy of Multicultural Diversity  Accessed 15th October 2013
Parkinson, L and OSullivan,K. (1990). Negotiating The Learner Centered Curriculum. In Brindley,G.(ed). 1990. The Second Language Curriculum In Action. Sydney:NCELT.
Peaty, D. (1995). Environmental Issues. Tokyo: Macmillan Language House.
Sessoms, I. (1994). A Conceptual Model of Infusing Multicultural Curriculum In Various Academic Disciplines in Higher Education. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association Multicultural Education, Detroit.
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Tye, K. A., & Kniep, W. M. (1991). Global education around the world. Educational Leadership, 48, 47-49.
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Wahlstrom, M. A., & Clarken, R. H. (1992). Preparing Teachers For Education That Is Multicultural and Global. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.
Wallerstein, N. (1983). Language and Culture in Conflict: Problem-Posing in the ESL Classroom. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
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– ©David L Page 15/11/1998
– updated ©David L Page 16/10/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

International Education Part 1

Vocational Education provision to International students

There is a growing number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers within the Australian post-compulsory education sector. Figures obtained from Australian Tertiary Institutions shows an overall increase in the number of Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers studying within Australian over the past 10 years with an expectation the trend will continue in the coming decades.

queensland-racing

Queensland Racing Industry Training Centre (QRITC)

The Queensland Racing Industry Training Centre (QRITC) provides vocational and pre-vocational training for the Queensland Racing Industry (QRI). This training is provided to both State participants as well as participants from International markets that want to take advantage of the level of training that is offered in Australia for this Industry.
Delivery is via nationally (Australian) accredited curriculum that is arguably on par with world Racing Industry Training standards. Methodology implored is traditional classroom style (handouts, worksheets and tests), with some experiential fieldwork, and with ‘instructional’ resources including Computer Technology. It is this last aspect, utilising Computer Technology as an ‘Instructional’ Resource within a pre-vocational training institution that I wish to explore within the parameters of this essay. I will analyse what I have learnt from the study of this institution, showing how the issues of Global education clarify my understanding of sound educational institutional practice. The theoretical basis of this essay is found in part 2 of this blog. I recommend it is read prior to the reading of this essay.
As we approach the end of the millennium, it is has become clear that technology should play a vital role in the way in which we educate our students (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:pp133-163). Following such advice, QRITC elected to install a ‘state of the art’ Computer Learning facility at the Deagon campus.This involved the purchase of a considerable amount of computer equipment, with the total cost far exceeding $100,000. Aviram talks about the pioneering quality that we as educationalists should be displaying (Aviram:1996:pp423-443). In line with this philosophy, QRITC expanded its’ student educational schedule to include a range of CAL and CALL sessions for each class, instead of the more traditional or experiential classroom instruction. This continued for about a 6 – 9 month period.
global_leadership
However, it was at this point that management started to receive feedback that the learning process was considered far from satisfactory. Both staff and students were despondent about the quality of learning opportunities (or the lack there of) that existed. Staff complained that whilst activities incorporated the Internet and a wealth of specific content information, there were questions as to what actually the students were learning. Students were complaining that what they were doing within their computer classes what could actually be done after formal class hours, by themselves, without any instruction. They started to insist that they had paid for a practical -orientated course, rather than a computer-based one. After some investigation, and finally management intervention, the instructional schedule was altered again, this time with far less CAL and CALL sessions allotted for each class. The number of experiential lessons was increased and immediately a positive response by both staff and students was forthcoming.
It is my purpose to look at why, in this era of technological advancement, that the attempt to incorporate technology into this particular institutional curriculum/program, failed. I will at the same time suggest what should happen in order to improve the perceived usefulness of CAL and CALL instruction.
educational-philosophy
QRITC seemed to be following an innovative educational pathway. They were investing a lot of capital into the implementation of a ‘state of the art‘ technological facility. This was quite significant given the short term that they had been operating as a commercial educational institution and the degree to which they still needed to achieve a level of income stability. There are some very sound reasons for pursuing this educational path. In their article, Lankshear and Knobel put forward two reasons for the necessary changes to the school delivery process and curriculum:
  1. to keep pace with the demands of the contemporary knowledge society and a new orientation towards learning;
  1. student perceptions that modern educational institutions are out of touch (Lankshear and Knobel in QUT guide:1997: pp133-163).
However some basic oversights of sound educational pedagogy prevented the implementation from being given a fair trial, preventing some would-be sceptics the opportunity of being shown how technology could not only enhance the instructional process, but add a learning opportunity that is becoming imperative to all.

learning-theory-v6_millwood-d2-2-1-20130430

The oversights at QRITC can be summarised as follows:
Inappropriate methodologies management (curriculum-program)
  • Failing to consider the course objectives as a whole, in detail and determining how, if at all, technological resources could be incorporated as one of the methodologies, as an instructional tool for enhanced learning within this context;
  • Failure to determine how the competencies were to be assessed, and then failing to utilise appropriate methodologies to assist the learners in arriving at this point;
  • Neglecting the style of course being offered and failing to incorporate much needed industry practical or experiential sessions;
  • Failing to determine whether the course, given the time constraints and the learner group, would be of an instructional or discovery style;
Inappropriate methodologies-learner (learner differences-learner style)
  • Failing to address the range of learners attending the course and determining if technological resources could be incorporated as an instructional tool for their enhanced learning;
Inappropriate methodologies-learner (learner differences-motivation)
  • Failing to address the range of learners attending the course and determining what they would be interested in, and offering them a range of options;
Inappropriate methodologies-learner (learner differences-educational background)
  • Failing to address the range of learners attending the course by ignoring the disparity of technological literacy levels.
Inappropriate methodologies-teacher (teacher training-lesson plan)
  • Incorporating technology as an add-on (that is, for its’ own sake) instead of as a tool of leverage. That is, in the playing of games instead of utilising the technology for the support of the acquisition of the content process;
There is ample evidence that the integrating of computers into the classroom opens up many issues that must be addressed (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:133-163). I believe the issues have a reciprocal impact on the following 3 main areas:
  1. Curriculum;
  2. Learner differences;
  3. Teacher training.
In order to ensure that technology does receive a fair trial in how it can enhance the instructional process, I believe all of these three areas therefore need serious consideration. Unfortunately, due to the constraints of this essay, I will not address all three areas here, in detail. I will however attempt to show the extent of this reciprocal impact in the areas of curriculum and learner differences, from the perspective of cultural differences, on the effective delivery of quality contemporary education. I have chosen these two areas as the priority of what an organisation should consider. These macro issues, are the issues that could without initial consideration, prevent the delivery of quality contemporary education. I feel the organisation needs to give these conscious (philosophical) consideration in order to decide how they are going to deliver an inclusive educational approach. The curriculum should therefore reflect the philosophical viewpoint and address it in an appropriate manner given the anticipated cultural differences. I feel then, that at that point, worthy solutions to address the anticipated learner group disparity on an ongoing basis, can be provided through such means as teacher training. [Whilst I have therefore put forward some ideas of how one may implement a training agenda that completes the holistic delivery of quality contemporary education, I have chosen to omit this area of discussion from the main body of the essay. A suggested agenda can be found in part 3 of this International Education blog series].

Can the growth of technology assist in learning?

developing-a-lo
Computer Technology is considered by some as a means of transforming current classroom practices (reform). Others feel it could be a way of finally achieving the replacement of the contemporary school system with a high-tech learning system (change). Either way, computer technology represents at the very least reform: at the best, change from the way education is currently delivered (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:134).
The second way that the growth of technology impacts the delivery process is in the manner learning takes place. “Perelman claims that whereas instruction is the essence of school education, the essence of the coming integrated, universal, multimedia, digital network is discovery” (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:135).
Whilst it is not my intention to debate the benefits and drawbacks of both learning or delivery styles, it is important to note that they are different. In so doing, we acknowledge that due consideration should be made prior to the commencement of the program to ascertain which style is more appropriate given the unique institutional characteristics. I would argue that the delivery style an institution chooses should be dependant upon the styles that the learner and the instructors/facilitators are skilled to do. That is, that style that they have experienced or are experienced in, within their culture. Which ever style one chooses, all of the three main areas that have been highlighted already – curriculum, learner differences and teacher training – share an interdependence with this delivery style, and therefore need to be considered and addressed once the delivery style has been decided.
learning-philosophy
“The process of curriculum design is not concerned with the ‘piecing’ together of isolated factors; but in fact the assembly of a group of interdependent elements that together create a framework for effective learning “(Vale et al:1991:13).
Nunan suggests that this holistic, integrated approach of the term curriculum is necessary. So whilst most would agree that methodological style is important, its’ discussion in isolation is to be avoided. The failure to consider all of these elements, is where some instruction to Non – Native English (NNEs) speakers within the Australian Tertiary sector fail. It is the sum of these areas, that should be considered as the essential elements of effective learning programs (Nunan:1991:pp228-248).
QRITC exemplifies this failure in its ‘development’ of a computer-based program, void of any mention of a greater picture of consideration such as the complete curriculum, the learners, their needs, and their goals, the teaching staff and the delivery style. Therefore the ‘development’ of a computer-based program at QRITC was based on a whole array of assumptions, voiding it of any real chance for success. QRITC failed to contextualise the computer-based program appropriately within the operational framework that it was to exist, within the specific institutional curriculum, in order to satisfy the particular learners.
The third impact technological growth has is on globalisation, particularly the speed with which globalisation is occurring. Globalisation, defined as “a set of conditions in which an increasing fraction of value and wealth is produced and distributed worldwide through a system of interlinking private networks”(OECD in Kelly:1998:1), and its “intensification over recent years owes much to the emergence of means of instantaneous global communication and mass transportation”(Giddens in Taylor et al:1997:55). Since the 1970’s, a world economy has become a valid economic concept. (Hobsbawm in Taylor et al:1997:55)
However, two issues arise:
(1) the spread of the western paradigm, through its’ designers and majority of users. This influences the recipient or user of the technology, irrespective of their nationality, with very little regard for the cultural needs of this recipient/learner/user;
(2) the degree of exclusivity that technology brings. Technology is available to a specific group of global citizens. The industrialised economically advanced nations are also the nations that have embraced the information age. Technological access allows its recipients, its learners and its users to become part of the information –based world economy, interacting with the latest information.
In contrast, third world nation citizens are said to not have reasonable access potential. Therefore, based on the destructive spread of the western paradigm argument, this can only be positive. However, information can bfing great advantages. Issues of universal human rights and ecological awareness are two such benefits in my view (Taylor:1999:59). Therefore, the danger exists that with the growth of technology is that the information rich will become richer (that is, become more informed of their humanitarian rights, and the environmental benefits of a lifestyle) and the information poor will remain so. This inequitable distribution of the knowledge, and the additional technological skills that are associated with its’ use, will lead to further disparity in socio-economic, cultural and political spheres.
With many non –Americanised cultures similarly embracing yet another symbol of the western perspective, education, I would have to include this as another dimension of potential influence. Again, it could be perceived as both an advantage or a curse. Yet, irrespective of ones’ view, acknowledgment must be given that this could provide one more avenue for cultural conversion. “The process called education is based on the same assumptions and the same Eurocentric model. The focus is on faraway facts and figures, on “universal” knowledge. The books propagate information that is believed to be appropriate for the entire planet. But since the only knowledge that is universally applicable is far removed from the specific ecosystems and cultures, what children learn is essentially synthetic, divorced from its living context”(Norberg-Hodge:1996:37). Likewise, the content of technologically-communicated information is of a particular cultural bias. Therefore in the consideration of the inclusion of computer-based sessions within an educational institution, the degree of cultural relevance of the learning material/task has to be looked at.

Significance for QRITC?

curriculum-design
So what significance do these issues have for an educational institution such as QRITC?  QRITC is educating Japanese students in Australia in an Australian vocational education course. I know that no mapping exercise has been done of the competencies to ascertain the degree of relevance between the Japanese home culture where the competencies are going to be finally applied and what is required in order to receive the Australian host culture’s qualification. I also know that whilst some information has been gathered to assist the student’s in their career options, (that is, the types of jobs available and the type of work they can expect) the actual assessable components are not related or linked to their living context. So what we have is a specific cultural group of Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) learners that are being taught within a foreign culture, via a foreign language, course content that has not necessarily any cultural relevance, via methodology that is not necessarily culturally relevant nor of a style with which the learner has experience with or aptitude for. The question that needs to be asked is whether this is in fact a negative attribute or could this be a positive attribute. Once again, I don’t feel it is necessarily the place to engage in this debate here, but merely to raise certain questions in order to attempt to ascertain the appropriate answer, given the specific context of QRITC. Such questions could be:
  • Is there any alignment between the Australian Racing Industry practice and the Japanese Racing Industry practice?
  • If not, is there any desire and/or need to be so?
  • And if so, who has decided that this is the case and who if anyone at all within the Japanese home culture agrees there should be so?
  • Is it a majority opinion or merely the opinion of a few in influential positions? (Only the controlling bodies?)
  • Is there any real benefit for the students to learn a foreign language and experience a foreign culture, given most students return to their country immediately after the course?
These questions highlight certain areas of the learners’ home industry to be understood. Perhaps their racing industry structures; the power relationships within the respective governing authorities; the economic opportunities, both within the local industry and outside of the industry in other countries, both in terms of the nation and the individual. All of these could potentially influence the possible responses to the above questions one receives, and therefore alter the philosophical position an educational institution might adopt in justifying the courses’ cultural relevance.
learning-philosophy
QRITC didn’t carry out any strategic investigation on the market of the prospective international learners. However, I was told that they assumed two things:
            (1) that Japan was in need of world recognised generic training; and,
(2) QRITC delivered world recognised generic training.
Again certain questions arise. I would be asking:
  • who ( person or nation) actually determined that the Japanese were in need of ‘world recognised generic training’; and,
  • whether by following a generic world recognised training standard is of the most advantage for the ‘home’ culture;
  • In addition, who determined that QRITC was a world recognised generic racing industry training body?
Other questions that come to mind are:
  • If QRITC is of a world recognised standard, upon what basis was it determined? (Within what cultural context?)
  • And finally, how aligned are the generic training courses to the learner group?
In the highly generic curriculum, the client is assumed to be of a specific stereotype. In the case of the curriculum being offered at QRITC, the stereotypical learner is: English speaking, moderate levels of literacy, both communicatively and technologically, and from a euro-centric cultural background. Obviously, a problem arises when the client being offered this type of course, does not satisfy one or any of these target audience characteristics. This raises the question as to whether generic solutions are appropriate, relevant, or in any way responsive to specific specialist areas. The major delivery challenge at QRITC was with the international learners and meeting the client’s cultural and language, or lack there of, needs. Given that the curriculum/program was not designed with the learner’s specific needs in mind, it should be of no surprise that the generic solution was not appropriate, congruent, compatible, or responsive to the specific needs of the Japanese learner group. The clients ranged from low to pre-intermediate proficiency levels of English, with fairly low levels of experience with International/western cultures.
I have already broached the issue of certain learners’ access potential to technology. At QRITC, learners had physical access to Information Technology. However, despite this, issues of access still dominated many conversations and discussions. It was pointed out that some individuals had quite varied educational backgrounds that had included diverse learning opportunities with regard to Information Technology. Some had not had the opportunity at school or home as others did, or the support and encouragement that they needed given the instructional or delivery style, or their particular learning style. Lankshear and Knobel draw two distinctions between types of learners who:
  • those that have never received opportunities to learn information technology; and,
  • those that are presented opportunities to receive but have not the level of computer literacy required(due to a number of reasons) to take advantage, full advantage of the learning opportunity. (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:133-163).
It was with this second point that was of considerable concern in the program at QRITC. The issue was the disparity of the learner group that was accepted within the program. Learners ranged from IT graduates, hobby-hackers to technophobics. This presented quite a few challenges, with the technically proficient soaring ahead and the technophobic slowly being turned off the computer-based instruction classes until their lack of attendance started to become an issue. The question that came to my mind was: To what degree was education for everyone? To what degree was it an inclusive curriculum? Coupled to this, was the fact that some of the instructors were as equally unskilled with the technology and/or inexperienced in the teaching of classes that had technology incorporated within them. I had to wonder what hope an inexperienced or even fearful learner would have of developing confidence and competence if the teacher also shared those traits.
Whilst the proficiency-level disparity amongst the learners is expected to remain as a major challenge of the information society as it has in other eras, I would hope that instead of viewing computer-based education as problematic, one should isolate the real issues and accept there are positive solutions. One solution is I believe very simple in concept but more challenging for institutions to commit to given their busy daily teaching schedules. However, if an institution has made a philosophical commitment to provide the effective delivery of quality contemporary education, then provision must be made in staff development programs to train the teachers to be able to provide ‘access’ for all those learners involved in their classes. It is only through ‘inclusive’ relevant programs, supported by trained, confident teachers, that we can achieve effective delivery of quality contemporary education.

Conclusion

As I have attempted to show in this essay, the integrating of computers into the classroom opens up many issues (Lankshear and Knobel:1997:133-163). I have introduced some of the issues: reform versus change; delivery style as being either instruction or discovery; the issue of globalisation- the western paradigm underlying it, the inclusive/exclusive nature of it and due to the rate of IT’s growth, the widening gap between the information haves and have nots. I believe I have also shown that the issues have a reciprocal impact on 3 main areas of educational delivery: curriculum; learner differences; and teacher training. I have focussed on the specific area of cultural differences of the learner group, highlighting the philosophical considerations an educational institution needs to be making in order to provide effective delivery of quality contemporary education. Then once a conscious decision has been made as to how an educational institution chooses to stage its’ delivery, positive solutions such as curriculum design and teacher training can be implemented. In order to ensure that technology does receive a fair trial in how it can enhance the instructional process, I believe all of these three areas therefore need serious consideration. QRITC has provided an excellent case study to exemplify the range of issues that can arise in what may seem a relatively simple exercise of integrating computers into the school program. And simple it may be. However, in order to ensure that the effective delivery of quality contemporary education is realised, holistic consideration of the educational delivery process and the learner group is recommended.
This blog series is planned to continue next month with International Education Part 2.
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– ©David L Page 28/10/1998
– updated ©David L Page 16/10/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

Leadership Part 1

global_leadership

Approaches to organisations

The governing body of an organisation, from the initial decision to create an organisation, needs to consider and decide what the motivation to engage in one’s business activities is to be. This motivation usually fits under either a product or process approach.

cooltext170962165748837

Product versus Process approach

A product approach focuses on the outcomes of the organisation. For example, a manufacturing organisation with the objective of maximizing profits via the sale of unit ‘x’, is most likely going to take a product approach: to produce and supply a tangible product as the basis of their purpose for existence.
A process approach focuses on the processes that an organisation engages in, in order to realise the purpose of the organisation. It is unlikely that a process orientated organisation would be motivated by maximizing profits alone. Examples of organisations with a process approach could be those developing science and technology.

Service organisations

However, a type of organisation that is likely to be both profit-orientated organisation and use a process approach is a service organisation. Services organisations provide some form of service as the basis for their purpose for existence. Examples of industries where service organisations are likely to exist are: hospitality, (commercial) education, age care and childcare.

society

My provision of service to a wide range of organisations

I have for a number of years operated a service organisation, providing business development training to international organisations. The range of industries that these organisations sit within are diverse. For example: manufacturing, hospitality, edu-tourism, commercial (government and private) post-compulsory education, training & ancillary services, higher education, natural therapies and retail industries.

The implications of these approaches on staff performance 

In working with this diverse range of organisations, I have noted across most of these organisations that a similar phenomenon continues to arise. I have found consistently that when my services have been recruited under the broad banner of staff training, I soon realise that the issue of staff performance is actually only a surface manifestation of a more systemic issue. I generally find, as I engage with the organisation through the provision of the training, there is an underlying issue that causes staff to act in a certain manner that frustrates management. I have found in what I believe to be a non-coincidental number of instances that the staff’s poor performance and frustration is tied directly to the approach the stewards have decided upon initially, when they were establishing the organisation: their product approach with an accompanying autocratic management style.
As a result of my experience in service provision to this range of organisations, I have concluded that the initial approach organisations decide upon to position, structure and operate their company, has a natural flow on effect as to the way staff engage in the organisation, across the life of the organisation.  A product approach with an accompanying autocratic management style may appear on the surface to enable the stewards and managers to achieve a degree of compliance with effective systems to realise the organisational objectives from the outset. However, I have consistently found the opposite to be true in the longer term. As the organisation matures, I have found that a product approach with an autocratic management style outgrows its usefulness in the first few years. This approach fails a healthy organisation work place, where seemingly motivated, empowered, high performing staff that were at one point in time inspired to share a vested interest in the vision of the organisation, lose their passion. I am cautious to say ‘lose their passion’ as I have cited many examples of staff where I would strongly suggest it is an archaic organisational approach and culture that has sucked the life out of the staff member; rather than (as I have heard so many times from stewards and managers) “the staff member has outgrown the organisation”. With the growing focus on organisational practice, the governing bodies of organisations have been put on notice to progress their approaches, and be more mindful of what they decide on to better direct the culture of the organisation into the future. Organisational governing bodies need to take responsibility and be proactive regarding their ongoing sustainability.
characteristics-of-a-leader
The following summary represents my observations of working with organisations that have employed either a product or process approach in directing their organisation. I acknowledge the sample is small – about thirty companies in total over a three (3) year period. However, I believe the data listed below lends itself to broad generalisations being direct link between an organisational approach and staff morale, engagement and contribution.

In general

Approach

Product

Process

Focus of Practice
The end result is the focus
The work practice is the focus
Style of practice
Outcome orientated
Emergent orientated
Type of testing of the practice
Evaluation
Assessment
Tools used to manage performance
Summative approach
Formative approach
What is to be tested?
The final product
The process one went through to get to the final product
What aspect is to be fedback?
Feedback on one’s achievement of the final product – successful or unsuccessful
Feedback on ones’ progress/
process
What mode of feedback is provided?
Quantifiable
Qualitative
Once the objective has been realised, what is likely to occur?
Achieve? Next goal?
Not achieve?
What’s next?
Review of one’s process
Result of holistic outcome analogy for the staff involved and the organisation overall
moves onto the next goal
the result usually encourages ongoing assessment of the process

In terms of specific practice

Management Practice

Approach

Product

Process

the organisational management style 
Autocratic
Participative
Typical flow of information
Top down directives
multi-directional flow, with
multi-tiered collaboration
Communication Style
Dictatorial /Authoritative (irrespective of how it is delivered)
Consultative/
Participative
Verbs describing the management communication style
Tells, sells
Consults, shares, delegates
What this communication style telegraphs to subordinates
No or condescending trust or confidence
Substantial trust and confidence
Result of communication style
Encourages no discussion or generation of ideas and opinions within the organisation for solving issues with jobs
Encourages freedom of discussion, and generation of ideas and opinions for constructive use
Result of the particular management approach
Staff tend to go to work for the pay
Staff go to work to be involved with something
Staff Morale
Low staff morale with suspicion of any requests or activities related to staff
High staff morale
“we would turn up even if there was no pay”
Tools used to manage performance reviews
Summative approach
Formative approach
Staff view of their performance reviews and the way they organised and delivered
Judgmental
Aspirational
Staff interpretation of appraisals
Performance management is a process where they are told what they are not doing
It is an opportunity to receive constructive feedback to develop their professional skills to become more professional
Affect on staff’s willingness for Professional Development
Staff are demotivated by extrinsic required professional development.
Staff are only likely to engage in required professional development given their suspicion that the PD activity is tied to performance management
Staff intrinsically engages in professional development, and embraces their organisational culture which actively promotes and facilitates professional development

Affect on Service Organisations

Approach

Product

Process

Result of the Management Approach
As staff tend to go to work for the sole purpose of their pay, they are likely to make their own decisions regarding the level of service provision that they provide
Staff go to work to be involved with something, and therefore are likely to be highly motivated in the level of service provision that they provide
Alignment of staff actions with organisational goals
Such service provision is likely to be tied with the individual staff’s motives and in conflict with the organisation’s goals
Service provision is likely to be in harmony with the culture and philosophy of organisation
Affect on staff’s willingness for Professional Development
Staff engaged in professional development only in lip service given their suspicion such is tied to performance management. Any professional development is done only for their own motivation to better themselves and/or their qualifications to capture a better job in an alternative organisation
Staff intrinsically engages in professional development, and embraces their organisational culture which actively promotes and facilitates professional development
Staff view of organisational Professional Development activity
The completion and/or achieving the minimal required overall grade is the focus, in order to ‘tick the box’
Staff are interested in the journey – experience and knowledge gained is the focus
Results
Staff get a competency grade
Staff get feedback of their involvement and contribution in the organisation
Benefit to staff
Staff receive feedback on their achievement of the desired outcome – successful or unsuccessful
Staff receive feedback on their  progress in the organisation
Holistic Outcome
Staff receive some form of certification
Staff receive detailed diagnostics of their progress in the organisation
Holistic outcome analogy
Staff retreat back to their roles, head down until the next directive arrives
Staff see this process as part of an ongoing process for improved professional practice. This process encourages staff to reflect on their  involvement and contribution
vision-blue-print-image
With the growing focus on organisational practice and sustainable performance, governing bodies of organisations have been put on notice to progress their approaches and be more mindful of what they decide on to better direct the culture of the organisation. I believe the data listed above facilitates broad generalisations being made regarding the direct link between an organisational approach and staff morale, engagement and contribution. As organisational governing bodies report to their stakeholders, they need to be mindful of what the most effective approach regarding the direction and culture of the organisation is going to be for future sustainability.

 

References
Characteristics of a Leader image courtesy of Characteristics of Leaders Accessed 10th September 2013
Leadership image courtesy of  Leadership Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Question mark image courtesy of: Cool Text Accessed 11th September, 2013.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.
Society image courtesy of Development of society  Accessed 10th September, 2013.
Vision blueprint image courtesy of:  Vision Blueprint  Accessed 10th September, 2013.

 

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– ©David L Page 13/09/1996
– updated ©David L Page 12/09/2013
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.