I would now like to draw the book to a close by returning to Chapter 1 and the questions of cognition and wisdom that were raised there. I want particularly to point to some qualities of thinking that are necessary to help us handle complexity, and to develop creativity. Sternberg (1988) has pointed out that although wisdom, creativity and intelligence overlap, they are different, and I hope the chapter will show this. First, I will briefly examine why cognition is important in school leadership, and what forms it may take. Then I will briefly illustrate different aspects of cognition as derived from my own research with heads (Raynor 2000) and finally I will discuss some of the issues that arise.
The changing face of educational leadership means that heads need greater intellectual ability for management than formerly, demonstrated in three specific ways:
You've got to be able to handle…the finances, you've got to understand the implications of political nuance, you have to be an infinitely more political animal than most primary heads ever were…and I think you have to be on top of the game philosophically, too, because people are asking questions that nobody ever asked you before, even if it's only once every four years! So I think generally speaking we need people of high intellectual ability, but with an awful lot of personal skills as well. (Inspector L)
This inspector stresses particular knowledge and understanding, but implies that the necessary intellectual abilities are not narrow, ranging as they do over the kind of rationality needed for financial planning and management, to the abstract thinking associated with philosophy, to the wisdom and pragmatism needed for working with people. Accountability implies that every decision has consequences, and the cognitive foundations of such decisions are very wide.