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Learning or Performance: What Should Educational Leaders Pay Attention To?

By Erica L. McWilliam, Peter G. Taylor and Lee-Anne E. Perry


This paper addresses the important question of how educational leaders think about how they spend their working time in the context of significant changes to the nature and purposes of their daily work. The report focuses on a dilemma that is confronting many educational leaders – why is it that I seem to get so little time to engage with the things that I value most? Put another way, why am I spending so much time responding to external accountability requirements and so little, in relative terms, on the learning culture of my school community? If our core business is learning, then surely the promotion of a culture of learning should be occupying most of my time. If not, why not, and what can I do about it? \ud To explore these questions we take on four main tasks in this paper. First, we explore the context in which measuring performance has become the main game for educational funding, and thus for educational institutions. Then, drawing on Carol Dweck's (1999) research, we set out a case for understanding learning and performance as different sorts of goals, rather than seeing them as inextricably linked to each other. Having outlined this distinction, we then ask about how both of these goals are pursued in the 'attentional economy' (Taylor, 2005) of educational leaders - that is, how such leaders divide their attention across these two sets of goals and with what effect. Finally, we present empirical data on one school principal's 'attentional economy' for comment and self-reflection

Topics: 130304 Educational Administration Management and Leadership, 160809 Sociology of Education
Publisher: Linkoping University Electronic Press
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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