Learning Leadership For Leadership Of Learning
Richard S. Webster, Ph.D.
Worthington OH 43085-3558
Principal – PRM Institute: R&D for learning, processes, and creativity
Consider these propositions. They are one basis for making
effective improvements in American education—high school
and higher education alike:
1. Every person who leads a class, course or other group
assembled for educational purposes is a quot;learning
leader, practicing learning leadership.quot; This is true
regardless of title or
topic, e.g., teacher, instructor, professor, presenter;
engineering, history, mathematics, technology—every
person, every course and program at every level.
2. Few learning leaders (probably < 5%) have
attempted to learn about leadership as it applies
to their work of education / teaching / instruction.
3. Many learning leaders (probably > 50%) with
content presentation responsibilities will deny
(many emphatically) that they are, in
fact, learning leaders.
4. By any description of leadership (we have
collected > 300 leadership models and their
associated skills or qualities) those in charge of
classes, courses and other educational programs
and events ARE, in fact, learning leaders.
5. There are many reasons why those
responsible for helping learners (aka quot;studentsquot;)
learn will disavow their role as learning leaders:
those responsible for the leadership of
learning. Learning about these explanations will
6. To quot;Leadership Denyersquot; we suggest
accepting your honored role as leaders.
Learn more about leadership and how it fits
your work and helps learners (those
you are responsible for helping to learn) make
their worlds better—while
improving contributions to national and
global economies—theirs and yours.
7. One step toward improving learning
leadership is easy and logical: Simply make
specific the learning process(es) you use for
presenting your course content. Most content
presentations are implicit, i.e. most instructors
use implicit theories of teaching—we teach as we
were taught as one wise teacher put it.
8. Making implicit theories explicit improves
learning leadership in useful ways.
Consider this. What would you add?
9. Learning leaders improve their learning
leadership when they review the LPEs they use;
make them more explicit and task their students
to provide evidence that LPEs have been used for
content learning. Students can learn to document
their use of LPEs, creating measurements akin to
GPAs, e.g., Learning Process
Applications—LPAs, Learning Process
10. Learning work and knowledge work are very
similar. Many learning process elements (LPEs)
are common to students' learning work in high
school and college and the knowledge work on
the job in our global information society.
11. Common learning and performance elements are
lanes on the bridge between learning work and
knowledge work. Common process elements include:
Thinking skills–a universal goal.
Information technology (IT).
Project knowledge and skills.
Process knowledge and skills.
Applied creativity for Innovation
Quality improvement. Engagement
12. Suppliers, as a rule, respond to customers’
desires—those they serve.
13. Heads up, fair warning: Schools and colleges are
suppliers to those their students are next involved with:
High school students will seek colleges that add to their
use of LPEs as learning tools. Employers will look for new
hires that know how to learn, how to use LPEs. College
students will respond quickly when those seeking new
hires ask for LPE knowledge, skills and documented
experience— LPAs / LPUs—see #9. Students will choose
colleges that support LPE learning.
14. Who’s in control here? When employers realize that
they can ask the their human resource providers (their
high school and college suppliers) for specified learning
process knowledge and skills (seven at #11) then those
institutions that help their students achieve command of
learning processes that employers want (regardless of
the subject matter content) will command the market.
This sea change in the learning marketplace will give
them an advantage.
Learning Leadership—What Next?
15. Does this case hold up, make sense?
• Is the learning work / knowledge work supply chain
• How can those helping students learn best learn to
act as learning leaders?
• What will it take to bring about this change—in
addition to employers asking for documented LPE
knowledge and skills?
• And how to awaken employers to this opportunity?
• Who needs to do what for improving both learning
work and knowledge work?