Leading with and Inquiry Stance

Year: 2019

Author: Smith, Zoe

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is a growing support in the education community for the need for change to enable schools to face the challenges and opportunities of schooling in the 21st Century. Our schools were created in the industrial age, where the prevailing norms were standardisation and compliance and relied on command-and control systems and leadership. Kaser and Halbert argue for change by suggesting schools need to create conditions where ‘curiosity is encouraged, developed and sustained, which is essential to opening up thinking, changing practice, and creating dramatically more innovative approaches to learning, teaching and leadership’(2017).

The concept Inquiry As Stance, a way of knowing and being in the world of educational practice, was introduced by Cochran Smith and Lyle (2009) as a powerful influence on school change with the potential to enrich both educational practioner and student learning needs for the next generation. The approach calls for school leaders to position themselves as inquirers, intentionally studying site based, locally significant issues and problems, collaboratively with others, in order to create intellectually demanding, rich learning environments for adults and children. However, the approach has not been substantially developed since its introduction to the educational literature.

This paper will introduce a proposed doctoral study that will explore this gap in the literature. The study will provide school leaders a deeper and precise understanding of the mindsets, knowledge, skills and dispositions required to enable them to know how to lead with an inquiry stance. The further development of the concept of Inquiry as Stance in school leadership will be achieved through the identification and examination of pockets of international educational practice, with the ultimate aim the development of a set of leadership practices that meet the needs of 21st Century leading, teaching and learning.