Chapter 1: Introduction
The current interests in learning indicate an existing controversy between the desire for a differentiated learning approach and a mosaic approach to teaching and skill development. Such a scenario has been escalated by the existence of a transforming external culture and global requirement of not only knowledgeable graduates but also skilled and competent persons who can fit in the dynamic world. All these factors boil down to how leaners are prepared to face the future challenges and needs in line with their specialization and professionalism. A keen evaluation of the measures undertaken to improve the experience and preparedness of learners is the use of educational leadership (Symonds, Schwartz, and Ferguson, 2011). While most of the concern has been set on the managerial aspect of leadership in schools, the change towards a sustainable approach to student preparation indicates how a learner-centered and classroom-based leadership during instructional delivery has become a modern practice. Schools and teachers are shifting towards the preparation of learners through transformational leadership to ensure that they acquire the best skills and experience in line with the anticipated future changes. The overreliance to the similar setting such as the grouping of learners based on their needs and abilities shows that these settings are not homogenous as represented by their labels. Such a case emanates from the need for each learner to be equipped with essential leadership skills, experiences, and behaviors that will enable them to apply the acquired knowledge appropriately (Jones and Weigel, 2014).
The traditional approach to student preparation is focused on three primary factors: the test achievement, earning a qualification, and readiness for higher learning. Therefore, it has been the mandate of teachers to determine the best resource combination to achieve these three objectives. However, the global transformation in line with the need for a problem-solving approach to sustainability has created a shift from the traditional approach. For example, the current concern is how the teachers can influence learners to develop competent skills for their leadership readiness and career advancement (Symonds, Schwartz, and Ferguson, 2011; Jones and Weigel, 2014). Therefore, school administrators have now become committed to organizing the fundamental dynamics such as defining roles, proper staffing, and system establishment, which creates a competent teaching team in schools. Modifying the existing policies, standards, assessment criteria, and the curriculum is also part of the measures undertaken to enhance the preparation of learners. The other factor taken into consideration to improve the transformational abilities of teachers is the creation of an environment that allows instructors to pursue diligence through sharing of teaching and learning practices, professional development, and increased engagement (Jones and Weigel, 2014). The additional measures, also called the conventional leadership practices, have enabled the teachers to assist students at different levels to acquire cognitive and behavioral competencies for career preparedness and academic excellence.
Although schools are shifting towards transformational teaching, leadership preparedness among schoolchildren remains an unclear concept. In most cases, it is perceived that once the students are taught the classroom knowledge, prepared for college, and pass the class tests to earn a qualification, then they are ready to face the needs of their country regarding leadership and career competence (Symonds, Schwartz, and Ferguson, 2011). However, this is not the case since as learner acquire the classroom knowledge, leadership and behavioral excellence should be equally cultivated. In UAE, most schools have adopted a framework that allows the learners to engage and learn beyond the language, science, and mathematics to understand self-management, decision-making, and change management skills. Learners, therefore, require an environment that is characterized by a regular exposure to real-life experiences which presents opportunities for them to develop and explore their talents beyond the academic perspectives. Such a case calls for voluntary measures rather than spontaneous and incidental experiences to guarantee effective leadership preparedness among learners (Symonds, Schwartz, and Ferguson, 2011; Jones and Weigel, 2014). Therefore, this research has been dedicated to evaluating the readiness of young learners to become leaders in government schools in Abu Dhabi.
1.2 Problem Statement
The process of nurturing leadership in a complex requirement for education-based institution especially at an elementary level. Most countries have been keen to establish frameworks and assessment programs that assist in identifying the specific leadership abilities among children. Efforts are then made to improve these competencies so that these talented children end up as efficient and reliable leaders (Zehran et al., 2016). In most cases, such measures require comprehensive preparation of teachers as well as creating an enabling environment and diverse curriculum altogether. The inability to adequately address all these requirements has hampered the process of leadership identification and nurture among public school children. In the UAE, the scenario is not far from a similar reality. Private schools have made significant milestones in achieving the objective associated with such programs; however, in government schools, it has not been easy (Rhoads, 2011).
On the other hand, an evaluation of the literature also indicates limited evidence assessing this issue to offer essential insights for decision-making and change implementation (Mathias, 2017). The questions that linger among research is whether the teachers in government schools in the UAE are prepared enough to identify potential leadership traits and potential among Grade 3 Level children, especially at early childhood development level. Another dimension related to this question is whether the government has set enough resources, frameworks, guidelines, and policies that guarantee early childhood leadership preparation (Zahran et al., 2016). That is, whether the government is ensuring that children with potential leadership competencies are identified and nurtured that they could become successful leaders when they advance in education until they graduate from college. Therefore, the readiness and preparation of young learners at Grade 3 Level in public schools remains a critical concern in the UAE, which warrants an evidence-based assessment.
1.3 Justification of the Study
Leadership is an essential component of national growth and development. A clear picture of the centricity of leadership indicates how it is depicted in all facets of life. The competence level among leaders differs from one person to another. The process of acquiring the desired experience and expertise depends on the exposure and preparation of potential leaders (Edwards, Elliott, and Iszatt-White, 2013). Whenever this potential is identified at an early stage, then the possibility of generating successful leaders is guaranteed. Therefore, schools and learning institutions have become the breeding ground for nurturing successful leadership traits. However, in most cases, such consideration has been perceived as an affair to be conducted at high school and higher learning levels. Nevertheless, the trend where talents are nurtured at elementary level starting with the early childhood development stage is becoming a common practice (Kamali, Jayashree, and Lindsay, 2015). At Grade 3 Level, the students are learning vital skills, which indicates how they can be motivated and influenced to develop competent leadership skills.
Worth pointing out is that such a change calls for proper preparation such as training of teachers, the creation of programs that are tailored to nurture leadership, and creating a separate budget to sustain such strategies. Therefore, in most cases, private institutions have emerged above the government schools because of the advantage of access to resources (Rhoads, 2011; Zahran et al., 2016). In the UAE, the information regarding how the government schools are implementing leadership training and development at the Grade 3 Level is limited. In such a case, more evidence-based research is needed to provide essential revelations that could be used to assess and improve the process of leadership identification and development among Grade 3 Level Learners. Studies that have examined how education and leadership are interrelated are diverse and numerous (Rahman and Said, 2015; Vangen, 2017; Al-Dabbagh and Assaad, 2010). However, research dedicated to determining how children are prepared to become competent leaders are limited. This research is therefore tailored to examine not only the approaches and measures undertaken but also the competence and experience of teachers in government schools in line with the process of identifying leaders and nurturing their talents at Grade 3 Level.
1.4 Research Objectives
The objective of this study is to determine how Grade 3 Level learners in public schools in Abu Dhabi are equipped to become leaders. The research is tailored to determine the strategies in place to ensure that students are nurtured to become successful leaders in future. Since leadership can be cultivated, education has become an essential approach through which learners are impacted to develop leadership skills through training and engagement. Therefore, this research was designed to evaluate the methods and techniques that educators have set to enhance the readiness of Grade 3 Level learners to become leaders. However, to achieve this primary objective, the research also included other objectives as outlined below.
1.4.1 Primary Objective
The primary objective of the research is to determine the readiness of young learners in Grade 3 Level public schools in Abu Dhabi to become leaders.
1.4.2 Other Objectives
To describe the nature of the strategies used in Abu Dhabi public schools to prepare Grade 3 Level learners to become leaders
To determine the effectiveness of the strategies used in Abu Dhabi public schools to prepare Grade 3 Level learners to become leaders
To highlight the challenges faced in Abu Dhabi public schools while preparing Grade 3 Level learners to become leaders
To evaluate the experiences of Grade 3 Level students in Abu Dhabi public schools as they are prepared to become leaders
To present the best practices and future considerations for Abu Dhabi public schools that will guarantee the best outcome while preparing Grade 3 Level learners to become leaders
1.5 Theoretical Framework: Organizational Leadership Theory
This study was based on the organizational leadership theory. The theory was selected because it allows the researcher to view the teacher as the leader and the students as the followers (Rhoads, 2011). The theory is also essential in this research because it provides the framework where the teacher is given the mandate of influencing the behavior, beliefs, and competencies of learners in a classroom. Such an objective is achieved through an engagement platform that links the classroom knowledge to the real world experiences and case scenario. Bess and Dee (2008) described the postulates that characterize the organizational leadership theory. The scholars ascertained that the theory entails the perspective of the social sciences, sociology, psychol...
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