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Bungee jumping and rocket launching: Transformative learning for today’s transformational school leaders

Michael Christie (Department of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Susan Simon (Department of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Wayne Graham (Department of Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Kairen Call (Department of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Yvonne Farragher (Department of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Australia)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 20 September 2019

Issue publication date: 1 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

A plethora of principal development programs based on myriad leadership theories currently abounds in many educational jurisdictions globally. Today’s principals, consequently and fortuitously, often feel less isolated and better supported that has been indicated in school leadership research over the past two decades. The purpose of this paper is to discover, however, how principals, through well-designed postgraduate study, can effectively become the transformational leaders, schools regularly require of them.

Design/methodology/approach

Action research involving postgraduate leadership students at an Australian university over a two year period, involved three cycles: identification of leadership learning needs, introduction of innovations to their learning and identification of the transformative learning which contributed to their leadership development.

Findings

Transformative learning impacts significantly on transformational leadership development. This happens when disorienting dilemmas challenge and open minds to possibilities, and paradigmatic assumptions are questioned. The ensuing awareness enables leaders to demonstrate characteristics of transformational leadership especially the dimension of individualised consideration.

Originality/value

Few studies have aligned transformative learning with transformational leadership theory, but this paper found that school leaders benefit from transformative learning in their quest to become such a leader. The scariness of a metaphoric principal bungee-jump could ultimately lead to rocket launching of the most transformative kind.

Keywords

Citation

Christie, M., Simon, S., Graham, W., Call, K. and Farragher, Y. (2019), "Bungee jumping and rocket launching: Transformative learning for today’s transformational school leaders", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 1610-1624. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-09-2018-0288

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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