Professor Colin Evers Seminar Presentation: Leading and Learning in Context Event as iCalendar


26 July 2017

4 - 5pm

Venue: J2 Lecture theatre

Location: 74 Epsom Avenue, Epsom, Auckland

Contact info: RSVP to the below email is appreciated but not essential

Contact email:

Professor Colin Evers

Professor Evers is visiting the Faculty of Education and Social Work in the role of examiner for the confirmation seminars of the Doctor of Education (Leadership) cohort.

We are delighted to invite the public, students and staff to his presentation in J102, and to a social gathering afterwards to be held in A201A.

Abstract: In this talk I discuss two elements of a larger research program on educational leadership that I am conducting in collaboration with Gabriele Lakomski. The first concerns leader-centrism. With the rise of neo-liberal accounts of public sector reform and a resulting focus on individualism, corresponding shifts to school-based management drove a demand for individual leaders to be the agents of change. Leaders also became the dominant locus of accountability for school performance. Since the eclipse of systems theory, leadership has prospered as the favoured explanatory category for school performance. My view is that the pendulum has swung too far towards leader-centrism and its inflated view of leader agency, and so I offer some arguments for pushing back. Arguments concerning methodological individualism, a more distributed view of cognition, and an emphasis on the structural factors that function as constraints on problem solving.

The second element deals with the consequences of fallibilism. Schools are complex places and the fallibility of our knowledge when it comes to decision-making and problem solving means that we should do less front-end-loading of knowledge in getting things right the first time and more effort into improving knowledge through the process of error correction. In this talk I argue that decision-making can be reconstrued as an extended process of problem solving trajectories. The implied social epistemology offers help in more closely specifying, in epistemic terms, how leadership might be distributed. One consequence is that instead of a sharp leader/follower distinction, we can have arrangements that go from highly leader-centric through to virtually no leadership at all. The conditions under which strong leadership leads to confirmation bias will also be explored.