Edev_501 Response wk9_1

“Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.”

– Henry Ford

Scouller (2011) found fault with earlier models of leadership. His remedy was to generate his own model which integrated psychological aspects of leadership into existing theories. Essentially, there are three domains in which leaders work; the public, the private and the personal. I use two parts of this tripartite framework to focus the discussion about how teachers, i.e. leaders in the educational context, think and act critically.

At the public level, teachers take decisions that affect the lives of many. The basic needs of the learner must be understood. Maslow’s Hierarchy (1954) provides a conceptual springboard for thinking about the continuum of needs from the physical to self-actualisation. As Maslow based his scale on selected individuals “from among personal acquaintances and friends” (p. 150) whom he had judged to have achieved self-actualisation, care is required before applying his model directly to non-middle-class, white male, US environments (Gopinathan, 2006; Heine et al., 1999; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Maslow’s highest stage is self-actualisation, “a supreme motivation only in an individualist culture” (Hofstede et al., 2010, p. 129). Gambrel and Cianci (2003) present a four-level heirarchy for a collectivist culture that places social belonging at the bottom and “self-actualisation in the service of society” at the top (p. 157). Teachers and leaders who extol the virtues of individualistic goals in Japan, for example, find themselves up against prevalent notions of conformity where the “ultimate purpose of learning is to serve the society” (Yang et al., 2006, p. 348).

Paul’s observation that critical thinkers must be above cultural imperatives because cultures “lock us in to one way of looking at the world” (Paul, 2007) only goes in one direction. Teachers who have ‘transcended’ culture will still fail to lead if they operate on the assumption that students have done so as well. Following Haskins’ definition of critical thinking as a “process … to effectively arrive at the most reasonable and justifiable positions on issues” (2006, p. 2), readers note two facets: that it is a process, i.e. a sequence of cognitive events iteratively collaborating towards a goal; and that that goal is justifiable. This mirrors Scouller’s definition of leadership as being a process, “a series of choices and actions around defining and achieving a goal” (2011, Section 1). The public level of leaderships intimately links these three notions of cultural sensitivity, critical thinking and leadership.

At the private level, teachers’ ability to view the informational exchange between learner and teacher as a dialectical process is paramount in effecting learning success (Bensalah, 2011; De-Juanas, 2014). Supporting cognitive change in students requires a sensitivity to epistemological developmental possibilities (Moon, 2005), whereas an insensitivity to non-readiness can result in “fear and resentment … directed at teachers” (Brookfield, 2002, p. 36).

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick suggest that one kind of good leadership feedback is to describe clearly to students the level of the desired performance (2006). Although the assumption is that students’ goals are achievable, they are “significant mismatches between tutors’ and students’ conceptions of goals” (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006, p. 206). Dewey offers one scenario; “the more varied is the scene of conditions and obstructions that presents itself, and the more numerous are the alternatives between which choice may be made” (Dewey, 1916, Chapter 8 Section 1). However, a critical thinker rather will search for multiple possibilities in a single scene to find numerous alternatives (Brookfield, 1987). At the private level, leaders constantly and systematically oversee individuals’ output holistically while concurrently monitoring overall progress and results (Scouller, 2011, Section 1), a feat unthinkable without the mindset that is constantly looking for a remedy.


Bensalah, L. (2011). The emergence of the teaching/ learning process in preschoolers: theory ofmind and age effect. Early Child Development and Care, 181(4), 505-516.

Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D. (2002). Using the lenses of critically reflective teaching in the community college classroom. New Directions for Community Colleges, 118, 31-38.

De-Juanas, A., Navarro, E., & Ezquerra, A. (2014). Students’ epistemological beliefs and the perception about the university professor. A study with science students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116(2014) 1343-1347.

Dewey, J. (1916). Education and democracy: An introduction to the philosophy of education. Project Gutenberg ebook. Retrieved June 5 from: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/852

Gambrel, P. A. & Cianci, R. (2003). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Does it apply in a collectivist culture. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 8(2), 143-161.

Gopinathan, S. (2006). Challenging the paradigm: Notes on developing an indigenized teacher education curriculum. Improving Schools, 9(3), 261-272.

Haskins, G. R. (2006). A practical guide to critical thinking. Retrieved June 6 from: http://www.skepdic.com/essays/haskins.pdf

Heine, S. J., Markus, H. R., Lehman, D. R., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard? Psychological Review, 106(4), 766-794.

Hoftede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. McGraw-Hill.

Markus, H. R. & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224-253.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. Harper and Row.

Moon, J. A. (2005). We seek it here…a new perspective on the elusive activity of critical thinking: A theoretical and practical approach. Bristol: Higher Education Academy.

Nicol, D. J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218.

Paul, R. (2007). Critical Thinking in Every Domain of Knowledge and Belief. Retrieved 5 June 2015 from: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/critical-thinking-in-every-domain-of-knowledge-and-belief/698

Scouller, J. (2011). The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill. Oxford: Management Books 2000.

Yang, B., Zheng, W., & Li, M. (2006). Confucian view of learning and implications for developing resources. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 8(3), 346-354.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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