Understanding leading as travelling developmental practices

Year: 2012

Author: Wilkinson, Jane, Olin, Anette, Stjernstrøm, Else, Lund, Torbjørn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In this paper we propose that the concept of travelling developmental practices provides a fruitful alternative to over-worked discourses of leadership in terms of understanding how practices sometimes referred to as teacher leadership, influence the travel of enhanced pedagogical practices between and within educational sites. Inspired by Scandinavian new institutionalist concepts of 'ideas which travel', we analyse how these developmental practices moved within and between educational sites, transforming the discursive, material and social conditions for pedagogy as they did so.
Drawing on parallel case studies conducted in Australia, Sweden and Norway, and utilising new developments in practice theory, we examine the composition of developmental practices which travel, and how these travelling practices are interconnected with related practices within and across schools and preschools. These studies are examining the interdependence between certain networks of practices - leading, professional development, classroom teaching and students' academic and social practices.
In our cases dimensions of carrier, context, object and contact are identified as crucial in shaping new pedagogical practices and critical aspects of travelling developmental practices are actions of taking new initiatives or structuring work in new ways. Furthermore, there is another important dimension regarding how a practice travels and is transformed locally. It seems to be of importance to also talk about 'niches', characterised by openness and receptivity, in which pedagogical practices can land and grow. It is suggested in the three examples that the niche was crucial for travelling practice/s to be picked up and transformed, and in particular, meetings as a nurturing space for professional learning, dialogue and practice.
We suggest that a practice-informed lens can shed new light on the spread of practices which influence the necessary conditions for transformed learning and teaching.