4 Guys Talking – Episode 5 (Lane Mills)

This morning we had Episode 5 of 4 Guys Talking, the new ‘talk radio’ podcast series from CASTLE. We spent almost the entire time talking about university educational leadership preparation programs.

Our first 40 minutes was spent with Dr. Lane Mills, Associate Professor at East Carolina University (ECU) and board member for the journal,Innovate. Among other things, Lane talked about being the ‘lone wolf’ faculty member when it came to trying to prepare his program’s graduates (future school administrators) for the demands of the digital, global age. Lane essentially said that

Making change in higher education is like pushing a rope.

We continued to talk about the difficulty of getting our faculty peers on board ideologically and, even when they are, also getting them the training and knowledge that they need but currently lack. There’s little support for faculty even when they do want to move in this direction.

After Lane left us, we continued to talk about the struggles that educational leadership programs face as they work to prepare appropriately-empowered graduates. One issue that we started to discuss – and probably should spend some more time on in a later podcast – is the desirability of having certain technology and/or leadership expectations for admission of our incoming students (who are typically teachers or principals) and/or explicitly-stated desired outcomes for our graduates regarding technology leadership.

Jen Hegna challenged us right at the end, stating:

What can k-12 schools do while higher ed is trying to figure [out] their leadership programs? It is hard for us to wait…we need change now!

She’s got us dead to rights, I’m afraid. Other than for her to keep plugging away on her end, I don’t have any great answers right now for her concern. It’s going to take a while for those of us in academe to get our act together (if ever we will).

You can download the podcast or listen to a Web-streamed version here:

You also can subscribe to the 4 Guys Talking feed using iTunes or a RSS reader.

Thanks to those of you who joined us live. Our next show will be on May 26, 1pm to 2pm Central. We’ll be talking with Dr. Chuck Heinlein, Director of the West Virginia Institute for 21st Century Leadership, which is sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education.

[I'm still reworking CASTLE Conversations, the old CASTLE podcast channel, which will include all previous and podcasts (including 4 Guys Talking). I'll post about it when it's ready (probably not until later this summer).]

Happy listening!

7 Responses to “4 Guys Talking – Episode 5 (Lane Mills)”

  1. Looking forward to listening to the latest episode. Here’s some food for thought…if ‘changing’ ed. leadership prep programs (particularly those that teach/lead them) is such a daunting task, doesn’t it also make sense that ‘changing’ schools system-wide in a similar fashion is going to be (at least as) equally difficult? It’s a “chicken and egg” scenario where the leaders of the leaders are often stagnant/static, so how can we expect those several ‘tiers’ away/under (educators) to be ‘changing’ as well?

    Answer??!: Pin the problem on ed. leadership programs until CASTLE figures out a better solution. 🙂

  2. Yeah, thank for that great answer, Matt!

    It is somewhat of a chicken-and-egg problem. That’s why systemic reform is so difficult, because all parts of the system need changing at once. At least some of us are rolling up our sleeves. Now if we can just get some others to do the same…

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “stuff” roll downhill? Can’t we substitute “change” in for “stuff”? We can’t expect teachers to change if those above them are remaining static in the old way of doing things. I guess I don’t see it as a chicken/egg problem. I know who needs to change first.

  4. Well, I happen to agree with you, Russ:


    That’s why CASTLE focuses on leadership and not students or teachers (like most others). That said, leaders can’t be the only lever that we’re working on. If we don’t address various parts of the system simultaneously, it takes too long and/or we’re never going to get to where we need to be.

  5. After listening to the episode, I couldn’t help but note more similarities between the struggles in higher ed and at the K-12 level.

    1) Lane commented something along the lines of “It’s not my job to teach the technology to my colleagues”

    So many K-12 educators, including myself, feel the same way. Between preparing authentic instruction, communicating with parents and assessing student learning, I don’t always have the time to help my peers get on board with all of the latest and greatest technology tools. “It’s not my job” either, but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to try.

    2) Scott, I believe it was, mentioned “tenured faculty can pretty much do whatever they want” as one possible reason for faculty resistance.

    The same can be said in many K-12 districts. Once an educator is tenured, there isn’t a whole lot fellow educators can do to ‘force’ change and help others see the value of forward thinking. I’m not an administrator, but from what I’m told and read, it’s not an easy task dismissing a tenured teacher, particularly if the reason was “refusal to use technology in the classroom.”

    It seems like the same issues I’m familiar with…”the world is changing, what are we going to do about it?”…are present at both levels. Is this really a surprise?

  6. Matt, the similarities are very clear. I think it’s even more difficult to persuade and/or pressure faculty to move in new directions than it is K-12 teachers.

    Jon Becker noted that it wasn’t his job. It’s not any of ours, and yet we all continue to try every chance we get because this stuff is IMPORTANT and we care about it. But that’s not a route to systemic reform…

  7. Rather than lament about how difficult the change is, why not begin to think that you’re the 99th monkey http://www.wowzone.com/monkey.htm and there’s only one more to go.

    We humans may not be as attuned to each other as monkeys apparently are , but maybe it will only take us 200 or 300, or so to make the shift.

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