Total Education Blog

Love in Education

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Last term I attended the annual dinner of the Toowoomba chapter of the Australian Council of Education Leaders. These dinners are always relaxed and collegiate with interesting speakers.

The guest speaker on this occasion was no exception, being Professor Jan Thomas, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland. Professor Thomas spoke on the theme of Leadership in Times of Change and, as anyone with an inkling of what universities have been going through in the last ten years, she is well equipped to talk on this topic.

Prof. Thomas observed that universities have resisted change and overreacted to it, rather than seeing the opportunities that have arisen from change. She made the point that we cannot afford to be frightened by change.

As a leader, Prof. Thomas has found it crucial to know her own style and strengths and to continue to deepen her understanding of herself. She believes this has given her resilience and decisiveness. She stressed the importance of self reflection. All very down to earth and personally engaging material.

What really bowled me over though, was her fleeting statement about the importance of love in leadership. I could not let this lie, so when she opened for questions I asked her what she meant by it.

She said that for her, love meant bringing an attitude of respect, recognising something bigger than yourself and wanting to be where you were. Very powerful things for all of the education leaders there to hear.

After dinner I got to talk further with her about The School of Total Education with which she is becoming increasingly familiar. Prof. Thomas is keen to visit the School and we hope to have her here in the not too distant future.

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