The fourth way in action: The new challenge for global educational leaders

by Mark Robertson, Principal, BEd, MEdst, FACEL, MACE, AFAIM.

Having recently been invited by Patrizia Torelli to host Dr Dennis Shirley from Boston College as part of his down under visit with Dr Andrew Hargreaves I am delighted to learn that the two brilliant minds are at it again, this time at the Dream Dare Do Conference in Atlanta.

The promotional literature reads ‘Profound transformations are taking place around the globe as technological advances erase distance and a new generation of multitasking millennials takes the place of aging baby boomers. Students and increasingly youthful teachers have an edge on electronic communication from social networking to Skype. Change is no longer others’ unwanted reforms, but something we can all believe in.’

The conference organizers could not have chosen their presenters more wisely. The now famous duo’s books, The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change (Corwin, 2009) and Fourth Way in Action (Corwin, 2010) engage educators with a professional past to determine what to keep and what to leave behind to strive for a better future.

The practical guides develop sustainable leadership that runs across schools and systems, distributing leadership strategically, attending to smooth and successful transitions, and supporting other leaders in schools in challenging circumstances. This is not dissimilar to the business practices adopted by the Spheres of Influence team led by Patrizia Torelli.

I’d also like to congratulate Andy on his recent honours, including the well deserved Presidential Citation, Australian Council for Education Leaders 2010 and more recently an Honorary Doctorate, Uppsala University, Sweden Fellow Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). This follows on the strength of his addresses to international organizations such as the World Bank, OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNESCO, the Soros Foundation, the European Union, the International Baccalaureate, the International Congress of Principals, the European School Heads Association, the Universities of Latin America, and the International Congress of School Effectiveness.

For more information about the work of this inspirational pair visit Andrew Hargreaves@ and Dennis Shirley @

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