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Tuesday, July 2 • 11:45am - 12:25pm
Surfacing knowledge and knowers in school leadership development clubs

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This paper draws on research within a Bachelor of Education Honours Educational Leadership and Management elective at Rhodes University referred to as ‘Learners Lead’, which focused primarily on the leadership development of school learners and argues that learners should be treated as people whose ideas matter. As part of this elective, the Honours students (practicing teachers) establish leadership clubs in their schools and involve learners in a change initiative in pursuit of leadership. Whilst learners engaged in club projects to varying degrees of success (2013 - 2018), little is known about the knowledge practices of such clubs. LCT Specialization offers an explanatory framework to examine the knowledge and knower practices that characterise the leadership club member’s meetings and interactions in the ELM Honours elective.

For this research in progress, 10 of the 21 students in the 2018 ELM Honours elective were purposively sampled and interviewed following a questionnaire to the entire cohort designed to answer the following research questions:
• What are the organising principles that shape the interactions amongst the club members whilst engaged in activities that lead to leadership development?
• What constitutes legitimate knowledge practices in club interactions and why is this the case?
• How can these knowledge practices contribute to the development of a leadership course or programme for school learners encouraging democratic citizenship?

The dimension of Specialisation is used as an explanatory framework as it provides a useful lens through which to establish the organising principles that shape the interactions amongst the club members while engaged in activities that have the potential to leadership development. Furthermore, the concept of semantic gravity helped to gain insight into knowledge practices and the type of knowledge privileged during the interactions. By making such organizing principles visible, “LCT enables these bases of achievement to become accessible to more actors, promoting social justice” (Maton, 2016, p.3). In addition by focussing on knowledge in the leadership clubs the aversion of the subtle ‘conceptual conflation’ of leadership skills and leadership knowledge can be avoided (Corbel, 2014, p. 109).

There is a tendency for ELM programmes to privilege a knower code (Kajee, 2018). The preliminary analysis of the data on club member’s interactions also revealed a similar tendency. An interrogation of the knowledge practices suggests that different types of knowledge are being privileged across these interactions. Practical/ Utilitarian knowledge was prevalent during club interactions. However, a few clubs focused on contemporary leadership theory. This is the first step in the theorising of knowledge that supports leadership development amongst learners. The outcome of the research suggests the need to standardise, and make explicit the leadership knowledge necessary for the successful development of leadership in learners during club activities and interactions. A strong recommendation coming out of this research is to develop a more formal course which makes explicit some of the key leadership practices that will benefit the leadership development of learners. By making explicit the knowledge practices that lead to leadership development will be addressing a social- justice concern as ‘knowledge does matter’ (Wheelahan, 2010).


Tuesday July 2, 2019 11:45am - 12:25pm SAST
Room B47