Situational leadership and teacher education

Situational leadership and teacher education

System, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 409-420. Printed in Great Britain SITUATIONAL 0346-251X/89 $3.00 + 0.00 0 1990 Pergamon Press plc 1989 LEADERSHIP ANDR...

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System, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 409-420. Printed in Great Britain

SITUATIONAL

0346-251X/89 $3.00 + 0.00 0 1990 Pergamon Press plc

1989

LEADERSHIP ANDREA

AND TEACHER

EDUCATION

G. OSBURNE

Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT 06050, U.S.A. Teacher educators providing instruction in methodology to students from teachercentred educational systems often complain that such students are reluctant to learn about innovative methodologies or are reluctant to study methodology at all. However, if teacher educators consider methodology essential, they must continue to teach it and find ways to make the idea of studying methodology acceptable and relevant to their students. This paper discusses Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership theory as a teacher education tool and shows how it can be used to induce students to appreciate the study of methodology and to carry it out effectively.

It was late afternoon. I was in my newly assigned office at Hunan University in Changsha. I had just finished my first class in Methods and Materials that morning, my first day of teaching in the Queens College M.A. TESOL Program in China. The door opened, and a student came in. She said she wanted to give me some advice. She said, “Please, can’t you just teach us English instead of teaching methods? What we need most is to improve our English”. She went on to tell me about two foreign teachers who had spent a month trying to teach a demonstration class in methodology at the normal university in Changsha the previous year: “At first they had 30 students, but by the end, only two students were coming, and they were very upset and disappointed”. The implication was clear. She repeated her plea for a language skills course instead of methodology and materials, and left. This experience, while distressing, is hardly unique. Since China opened to the West some 10 years ago, foreign teachers have been complaining about the difference between their understanding of what teacher education means and the understanding of this term which they perceive their Chinese students and colleagues often to have. So Cowan et al. (1979: p. 475) report that the teachers they interviewed did not agree on the value of methodology, with older teachers in particular tending to dismiss it, and Maley (1983: p. 97) comments that in China, teacher education is generally understood as merely improvement in language skills, not as the study of methodology. Oatey (1984) reports an experience quite similar to mine: negative comments made by students about studying methodology during the early years of her program at Jiaotong University in Shanghai. Students definitely preferred literature and language skills to methodology and linguistics. I am grateful to Y. Eunice Lii of National Taiwan Normal University for her very helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. 409

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G.

OSBURNE

There have been several attempts to account for the reluctance of Chinese teachers to study methodology; the reasons given can generally be divided into those based respectively on fear of new methods, lack of comprehension of new methods, and perceived lack of necessity for or uselessness of new methods (Table 1) [the fullest account is given by Greabe and Mahon (1981: pp. 207-208)]. Table 1. Reasons for rejection of methodology

courses

1. Fear of methods a. Teachers’ limited knowledge of English, resulting in their generally teaching “to the limits of their knowledge” (Patrie and Daum, 1980: pp. 392-393); as a result, they feel unable to make use of methods designed to provoke questioning by students. b. Preference which teachers consider their students, who are accustomed to rote memorization and teachercentered classrooms as these are exemplified in the widely used grammar-translation method (sometimes mixed with ALM), to have for traditional methodology; teachers are concerned that students may reject unfamiliar methodologies (Grabe and Mahon, 1981). 2. Lack of comprehension of new methods Teachers’ lack of knowledge of the context of new methodology, since they have been unable to follow foreign developments in linguistics or educational philosophy (Grabe and Mahon, 1981). 3. Lack of need for new methods a. Absence of pressure to innovate for the purpose of attracting students, since students cannot choose to change their course of study (Grabe and Mahon, 1981). b. Belief of teachers that traditional methods have been successful (Grabe and Mahon, 1981). 4. Uselessness of new methods a. Individual teachers’ severely limited influence on educational policies in terms of methods selected for actual use in the classroom, since lesson planning and materials selection are a group responsibility (Grabe and Mahon, 1981; Scovel, J. 1983: p. 108). b. Perceived possible inability of new methods to serve examination-preparation needs of students, since nationwide tests focus on activities tailored to the grammar-translation method (Grabe and Mahon, 1981; Scovel, T. 1983: p. 88).

Some of the factors cited are probably unique to China, but others are found in different countries with similarly traditional, teacher-centred educational systems. For example, Sullivan (1987, unpublished observations) cites fear of new methods and lack of comprehension of new methods as teacher education issues in Botswana, while students from a number of countries, when taking methodology courses in the United States, sometimes complain of their anticipated failure to secure permission from principals or other supervisors to use new methods once they return home. In the face of student hostility to the study of methodology there are two obvious possible responses. One is to carry on as usual, or, in other words, to try to exercise a sort of traditional leadership. Such an approach generally leads to failure to change students’ attitudes; it may be exemplified by the two instructors who attempted to teach methodology at the normal university in Changsha, at least as their effort was described by the student. A second possibility is to give in, that is, to exercise no leadership. Such an approach can perhaps be most clearly exemplified in another arena besides the study of methodology, the teaching of EFL in general. As Wu (1983: p. 114) comments, “I have seen . . . some foreign teachers . . . try to please the students by too quickly giving up certain principles and practices which might also work in China and adopt what they perceive to be ‘Chinese methods’ “. This practice was criticized by the Chinese panel at a conference on foreign participation in English teaching in China held in Honolulu in 1982 (Porter, 1983: p. 79).

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It is debatable whether the policy recommended by some teacher educators in China, teaching methodology through development of language skills, explained as demonstrating new methodology by using it to teach students English, represents the same approach; the answer probably depends on the exact procedures used and the precise mix of theory and language skill development (see e.g. Mahon and Grabe, 1982; Oatey, 1984). Neither of these responses can be expected to provide students with a great deal of effective teaching of methodology, the former because it fails to prepare students for methodology instruction and the latter because it limits the course time which will be spent on methodology proper. Yet if teacher educators consider methodology essential to teacher development programs, and obviously we do, for both practical skills-training reasons and for reasons of teacher breadth and education-the desire to have teachers understand the why as well as the how of what they are doing, and to know how to cope with new times and conditions (Strevens 1978: p. 191)-then we must continue to teach it (not give in), and it is our responsibility to find ways to make the idea of studying methodology relevant and acceptable to tradition-minded students. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the application of Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership theory as a teacher education tool, an alternative to the two options of traditional leadership and no leadership described above.

INTRODUCTION

TO SITUATIONAL

LEADERSHIP

What is situational leadership? It is a management theory, a model of leadership styles developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1982) which is distinctive in focusing on actual leader behaviour, rather than merely leader attitudes, in establishing a classification of leadership styles: “the behavior . . . [a] person exhibits when attempting to influence the activities of others as perceived by those others” (1983: pp. 95-96). Leadership styles are crossclassified along two continua rather than along a single continuum such as authoritarian/democratic, and a third dimension, effectiveness or environment, is added to capture the finding that a single type of leader behavior is not necessarily best in all circumstances; in particular, Hersey and Blanchard extensively review earlier studies which sometimes did show some leaders who were surprisingly successful although they engaged in (e.g. overly authoritarian) behavior that was thought to be counterproductive (this is analogous to the familiar situation in language teaching where sometimes methods that are not supposed to work do, with certain students, or methods that are supposed to work do not). In Situational Leadership theory, the two continua of leader behavior are termed task behavior and relationship behavior [or directive behavior and supportive behavior; see Blanchard (1985: p. 2)], and together they define four leadership styles: high task/low relationship (Sl), high task/high relationship (S2), low task/high relationship (S3), and low task/low relationship (S4). Task behavior is “the extent to which leaders are likely to organize and define the roles of the members of their group (followers); to explain what activities each is to do and when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished” (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 96). It is concerned with seeing that activities are carried out, for example that methodology is studied and comprehended. Relationship behavior is “the extent to which leaders are likely to maintain personal relationships between themselves

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‘3. OSBURNE

and members of their group (followers) by opening up channels of communication [and] providing socioemotional support” (p. 96). It is concerned with the social and psychological environment, for example that the study of methodology is enjoyed or perceived in a favourable light. To Hersey and Blanchard, the appropriate mix of these two types of behavior, determining a particular leadership style, depends on the environment, which itself is composed of a host of variables including the leader’s and followers’ demands, attitudes, abilities, and expectations. Expectations, of course, may be partly dependent on cultural factors, and it is here that Hersey and Blanchard’s theory is particularly strong in recognizing that cultural factors may affect the value of whatever leaders do; several experiences are described in which the same leadership style was found to be either effective or ineffective, with the critical variable apparently being the culture in which it was being employed. Leader behavior, then, is especially important in relation to the followers, and Hersey and Blanchard place particular emphasis on considering the followers’ readiness level (Hersey, 1984: p. 45), or their “ability and willingness . . . to take responsibility for their own behavior” (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 151). While this is not the only aspect of the environment with which Situational Leadership is concerned-other factors such as the time or financial resources available, or the presence of racism or sexism (Miller, 1983: p. 21) are examples-it is considered most important. In referring to people’s “readiness level”, it is necessary to note that Hersey and Blanchard are not concerned with any overall readiness or level of development that people may possess, but rather with their readiness as regards the requirements of some particular task (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 151). For example, a student who is diligent about handing in assignments but works poorly in groups is ready with respect to assignments but unready with respect to group work. Readiness itself, like leader behavior, can be divided into two components. The first, job readiness, is the “knowledge, ability, and experience to perform certain tasks without direction from others” (p. 157). Psychological readiness involves “confidence and commitment”, or, at the very least, “willingness . . . to do something” (p. 157). Persons who demonstrate low levels of task relevant readiness [that is, with respect to a particular task, they are “unable and unwilling”, or unready both psychologically and jobwise (p. 154)] are said to have readiness level Rl, while those with increasingly higher levels, “unable but willing”, “able but unwilling or insecure” (this is a stage of self-doubt), or “able/competent and willing/confident” (p. 154) are said to have readiness levels R2, R3, or R4, respectively (Hersey, 1984: pp. 48-51), and these numbers correspond to those given to the four leadership styles, Sl to S4. The basic idea is that leadership style Sl is most appropriate for use with followers who are at readiness level Rl with regard to a particular task such as studying methodology, leadership style S4 is most appropriate with followers who are at readiness level R4, since at R4 followers prefer and are capable of self-direction, and so on. This is because, as said before, Hersey and Blanchard consider the effectiveness of a leader to be particularly influenced by the level of the followers, e.g. whether they are independent or dependent; a leader may find it difficult to change followers’ levels in the short run, and so may need to temporarily change his or her own style to match that of the followers (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 132). Figure 1 illustrates the match between readiness levels and styles. To find an appropriate

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Fig. 1. Situational leadership-leader’s styles and followers’ readiness levels. Task behavior; relationship behavior.

leadership style in a given situation, when followers’ levels are to be the main consideration, one need only check to see which leadership style corresponds to a given readiness level. If followers are at level Rl, then Sl [“telling”, or “defining and telling people what, how, when, and where to do various tasks” (p. 153); sometimes termed “directing” (Blanchard, the 1985, p. 3)] is most appropriate. For R2, there is S2, “selling” (or “coaching”)-here leader is still highly directive, but now provides socioemotional support to persuade followers to fully accept leader decisions about what is to be done. If followers are at the R3 level, then S3 is considered likely to be most successful. In the R3 “participating” (“supporting”) style, leaders and followers share decisions about what is to be done, and R4 evokes S4, “delegating”; followers, who are now at a high level of readiness, can be left on their own to accomplish tasks (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982; p. 153). They have less need for socioemotional support and more need for autonomy (p. 156).

SITUATIONAL

LEADERSHIP

AND EDUCATION

Application of Situational Leadership to education is fairly recent, and studies of its effectiveness there have not yet been made. As mentioned before, Situational Leadership was first proposed as a theory of business management, a field in which it has achieved widespread recognition, and it is there that most major testing of its effectiveness can be found. For example, Hambleton and Gumpert (1982) studied 65 managers to test various predictions made by the theory, including the predictions that managers rated as “high performance” by personnel managers familiar with their work would use situational leadership more than “low performance” managers, would show more flexibility of leadership style, and would rate their supervisees’ job performance as being higher. While they felt unable to make definite claims about causal relationships between use of situational leadership and quality of job performance because of the inability in the study to actually manipulate leadership style experimentally (p. 241), Hambleton and Gumpert did nevertheless conclude that there were indeed clear indications that these predictions were valid.

414

ANDREA

G. OSBURNE

Despite the general lack of knowledge of Situational Leadership theory among educators, there have been several attempts to apply it or discuss what it would mean in educational settings, including educational administration [to illustrate, see Duulap (1985)]. For example, Hersey and Blanchard (1982) discuss the use of situational leadership to explain educational failure in instances where teachers with a humanistic orientation may delegate responsibility to students who are accustomed to closer supervision by the teacher (p. 132). In situational leadership terms, failure occurs because an S4 style is being used inappropriately with students who are only at level Rl instead of at the requisite R4. When methodology courses are not successful with students, sometimes the cause may lie here, in the way methodology has been taught, rather than in the course content; this point will be returned to below. Most interesting is an unpublished study by Angelini et al. cited by Hersey and Blanchard (1982), which was carried out in Brazil. In the classroom, the four styles, Sl to S4, were interpreted respectively as in-class lecturing by the teacher with no socioemotional support (high task/low relationship), circular group discussion with the conversation still directed by the teacher (high task/high relationship), group discussion with the teacher participating in a supportive way but not directing (low task/high relationship), and continued group discussion, with the teacher only participating when asked by the class to do so (low task/low relationship) (p. 165). The objective was to gradually move students from dependence on the spoon feeding of the lecture to full and active participation in their learning, and this was accomplished over the course of the school year with the instructor gradually changing from Sl through S2 and S3 to S4. Compared with the control group classes, in which lecture was used most of the time, with much less use of group discussion and other forms of participation (p. 165), the experimental group in two separate trials performed better on exams, had a better attendance record, and showed, according to observation, greater enthusiasm and motivation (p. 166). This leads to an important point about Situational Leadership. It should be generally clear from the above that Situational Leadership theory is applicable to education, including teacher education, in terms of being able to describe aspects of what occurs and to enable teachers to fit their teaching style to the students’ level. If that were all there were to situational leadership, however, it would be of little interest. When students objected to studying methodology we would simply give it up and move to language skills (the “no leadership” option, undertaken under the guise of suiting our instruction to the students’ level of readiness). Effectively, no advance would be made. However, a goal of Situational Leadership is for the leader to gradually move followers from lower levels to R4 in order to convert mere leader success (for example, getting students to do something because the teacher has coercive power over them) into leader effectiveness (again, for example, getting students to do something because they want to and see it as personally rewarding or compatible with personal goals; see Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: pp. 109-110). A large part of Situational Leadership theory is concerned with how to accomplish thishow to prepare followers for changes in leadership style, and how to know when to change. The general finding is that the time to switch to a different leadership style is when the followers’ performance is gradually changing (Blanchard, 1985: p. 9; Hambleton and Gumpert, 1982: p. 226; Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 186). To move from S2 to S3 successfully, for instance, it is necessary to move followers from R2 to R3, and this must

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be done by gradually increasing their task readiness, delegating responsibilities to them in small increments and rewarding successful performance (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: pp. 201-203). While there are various ways to apply Situational Leadership (Orton, 1984), the clearest directions are given by Blanchard (1985): let followers know what YOU want them to do, model appropriate performance for them, let them attempt the task, monitor their attempts to carry it out, and “manage the consequences” (p. 7)-give an appropriate response. The key is to use a gradual, step-by-step approach, and not to try to advance too much at once. To return to our example of Chinese students learning methodology, as Wu (1983: p. 113) points out, “Many Chinese students are accustomed to teacherdominated classes and expect the teacher to deliver knowledge to them. It is only through gradual and sensitive introduction of learner-centered methods that they will come to accept a radical shift in their classroom role”. In other words, while students may not be able to “move directly from a system of education based on rote learning to a system of education where meaning and understanding are everything, . . . they can move there by stages” (Patrie and Daum, 1980: p. 393).

SITUATIONAL

LEADERSHIP

IN THE METHODOLOGY

CLASS

At the start of the methodology class, the teacher educator may find tradition-minded students to be essentially at stage RI. They do not care to study methodology, having serious doubts about its relative interest as a subject and its relevance to their perceived needs, and, being accustomed to a teachercentered class and to methods of studying that rely heavily on rote memorization (Wu, 1983: p. 114) rather than training students to be analytical, they are not able to study and really understand a modern methodology course either. If the instructor adopts the corresponding leadership style Sl, he or she will, instead of backing off from the course, assure students of the value of studying methodology and also assure students that methodology will indeed be taught. Here we have the “telling” styleinforming students about the nature of the course and about what will be expected of them. It will not be accompanied by relationship behavior, however, because, according to situational leadership theory, if the instructor injects relationship behavior at this stage it might lead the students to believe that he or she is “soft” and might be persuaded out of teaching methodology after all. At the same time, the instructor can begin to develop students’ abilities to handle the subject matter by beginning to teach the actual course content. Initial teaching, however, should be predominantly in a teacher-centered lecture style in order to avoid too much unfamiliarity at once; for these students, when introducing unfamiliar subject matter, begin by using a familiar teaching style, such as lecture, and when introducing an unfamiliar teaching style or method, such as class discussion, begin by employing it with familiar subject matter. If RI is dealt with in this manner, Situational Leadership theory expects students to move rapidly- -.to the R2 stage. Here, they still lack the skills to deal satisfactorily with the methodology course, but they have at least reached the level of willingness to deal with it, even if this willingness is at first, and very briefly, nothing more than a kind of grudging acceptance of the course’s inevitability. Greater acceptance, enthusiastic in nature, can be developed later by the techniques to be described; this minimal degree of acceptance at

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least provides a “hook” into the methodology course and hence to advances in student readiness. S2 becomes appropriate for the instructor using situational leadership. The directive behavior of Sl will continue, but it will be accompanied by high relationship behavior: the beginning of socioemotional support, including supportive comments to reward good performance. As far as directive or task behaviour is concerned, the instructor, while continuing to use a lecture style as needed for course content, will also begin to instruct students in the study skills they will need to handle methodology in a more learner-centered manner. Group discussion can be introduced, although at this stage the discussion may still be somewhat dominated by the teacher (as in the study by Angelini et al., unpublished observations), and demonstrations of methods can begin. Both discussions and demonstrations can be introduced using the steps recommended by Blanchard (1985), as cited above: Let followers know what you want them to do, model appropriate performance for them, let them attempt the task and monitor their attempts to carry it out, and give an appropriate response. For example, suppose the instructor wishes to have students analyse and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Silent Way. It would be appropriate to first explain to students what they will be doing, then analyse and discuss another method first, as a model, and then watch them try to perform in the same manner (brief trials are best at the beginning). Finally, the instructor should compliment students on good performance completed; if performance seems to be proceeding poorly, the instructor may intervene to get it on the right track so that a compliment at the end may still be appropriate. Students can also be prepared for examinations in the methodology course in this step-bystep manner. As described by Osburne and Dowd (1987), Chinese students often attempt to use traditional study strategies such as rote memorization, strategies which will not prepare them for analytical essay questions. With students of this type, more sophisticated analytical examination questions-such as the type which require students to analyse and evaluate a method they have not heard of or discussed before-should be deferred (perhaps from the midterm to the final, for example). Again, modelling and practice trials prepare them for what will be expected and help insure the instructor against being disappointed by the results. When students have been sufficiently accustomed to the subject matter of modern methodology courses and have been trained to study it effectively, they move to stage R3, where they are able but lack confidence. At this stage, according to situational leadership theory, students can be expected to express a great deal of self-doubt. When told they will be required to state and defend an opinion on an examination, for example, they might say, as several have done to me, “We don’t know how to argue with professors” (Osburne and Dowd, 1987). Leadership style S3 is appropriate. Further instruction in how to approach the methodology course (task behavior) is not really needed any longer, but increased socioemotional support is necessary to build confidence. If students overcome this stage of self-doubt, they might it may be rather unlikely, however, that a single course that dramatic a degree of change (in my own experience, from RI to R3 in one methodology course, and from

then be said to have reached R4; would be sufficient to produce I have moved the same students R3 to R4 in a second course).

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Nevertheless, with “reasoning and persuasion with a lot of patience” (Wu, 1983: p. 115), and of course situational leadership, progress can definitely be made. One objection which might be made to the use of situational leadership is that it imposes an unpleasant burden on the teacher educator, who may find the necessity of using a somewhat authoritarian style in the initial stages distasteful. However, it is important to keep two points in mind. Firstly, since it fits the needs of the students, it can be successful in teaching methodology where other approaches may fail. For example, Oatey (1984, p. 360) increased the acceptance by students of methodology instruction by switching from a workshop format involving discussion of Western methodology to having instructors give concrete directions about usable techniques. Secondly, the authoritarian style need only be very temporary, since the goal is to lead students to a readiness level where it can be abandoned; mere acquiescence by students during the course is definitely not enough.

DIFFUSION

OF EDUCATIONAL

INNOVATION

So far we have been discussing situational leadership as a means of making the study of methodology acceptable to methodology students from traditional educational systems, using China as an example. We now turn to the question of how to use Situational Leadership to make the study of methodology relevant to students. Most students will probably perceive relevance to the extent that they feel they might actually be able to use at least some of the material presented in the methodology course in their own teaching, and will not perceive relevance in the abstract sense of enhancing their understanding of language teaching in general. We may feel this view to be too narrow, and may wish that methodology students took a broader view of the value of what they have learned, but we must recognize that often they will not. Situational Leadership can scarcely be expected to solve all the problems of introduction of new methodology into conservative educational systems, by any means. It cannot be expected to greatly speed the difficult process of changing students’ knowledge of modern language teaching to actual behaviour in the classroom, for example, when there are strong cultural or other inhibitions to educational change [in other words, since behavioral change lags behind changes in knowledge (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 2), we should not be surprised or too disappointed if students returning to their classrooms continue initially to use grammar translation]. However, providing training in Situational Leadership to methodology students can at least supply them with a concrete tool to be used at their option to introduce new methodology to their own students effectively. After all, when they return to their classrooms, should they wish to try something new, they will face the same problem that they posed for the teacher educator-the problem of how to make innovation acceptable to students who may have a different perception of education and of appropriate classroom practice than that presupposed by the material to be introduced [for a discussion of the special difficulties involved given the fact that the EFL course may be the only one where students are asked to change their view of education, see Hutchinson and KlepaZ (1982)]. Instead of continuing to use only familiar methods out of fear that students would not accept new ones, students can employ Situational Leadership.

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ANDREA

In addition

to lectures

and readings

G. OSBURNE

to introduce

basic concepts,

a standard

and widely

used technique for providing training in situational leadership is to use case studies [see Miller (1983) for sample case studies intended for use with educational managers]. Students read descriptions of familiar teaching situations and attempt to identify the readiness level of the students depicted. Then they must decide what they would do. Here is an illustration. You are teaching English composition to a class of college freshmen. You would like to have them keep journals. You plan to collect the journals every two or three weeks and read selected portions, commenting on them briefly, but you do not plan to correct individual entries-it would be contrary to your philosophy of composition, and anyway the class is too large. You know that your students have never kept journals in a composition class before, and they are used to having all their written work corrected. You are afraid that they will object to the idea of keeping journals and will regard your failure to make corrections as evidence of your ignorance of the language.

Here, the main point to be made is that with respect to journal-keeping, students are at readiness level Rl , and therefore, simply assigning that journals be kept and giving students the minimal supervision implied by infrequent collection and lack of any correction is likely to be ineffective. Students will indeed probably complain, and are likely to gradually cease doing the assignment. The teacher might be best advised to provide closer supervision and direction: more frequent collection of journal entries (if this is too big a burden, the teacher can require students to write in their journals less frequently at first), and some compromise on the sure-to-be-troublesome correction issue. Perhaps the students could be satisfied by having some of their other, non-journal writing corrected instead, at the same time, or some journal entries might be corrected indirectly by having the teacher use correct forms in a response to each (now less frequent) entry. There is nothing new about any of these compromises. They are frequently employed by practicing teachers. They need to be specifically pointed out to students, however, as means of making new methodology work. Cases of this type can be readily constructed to fit a variety of needs. A variant is to provide descriptions of problems reported by teachers, together with the solutions adopted, and have students interpret them in terms of situational leadership theory. The question for students to answer is whether the teacher acted appropriately, and why. The following example is based on Wiig (1985). An American teacher in a Japanese high school had difficulty in getting his students to participate in communicative activities. They simply would not speak voluntarily in class. His solution was to get the students to ask him questions about himself, questions that he could answer with either “Yes” or “No” to avoid taxing their powers of aural comprehension. Since they would not voluntarily communicate even to this limited extent, he asked them to stand up, and would not allow any student to sit down again until she had asked a question. Since the students did not wish to remain standing indefinitely, they now performed as the teacher required. (p. 81).

The students here appear to have been at readiness level Rl with respect to communication. It may seem that the teacher was using the appropriate Sl style, “telling”, with them (after all, he “told” them to stand up and ask questions), but given that the desired behavior was communication, he really was not. It is doubtful that students intent on physical relief could have been paying much attention to the content of the language exchanged. The situation in fact probably closely resembled the one described by Hutchinson and Klepa’c

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(1982: p. 142) for a class in Yugoslavia, where the language exchanged was viewed by students less as an opportunity for real communication than as a simple opportunity for the teacher to grade them. In our example, the teacher did not really instruct the students in communication at all. He did nothing to advance them from Rl to the R2 level which would make them willing to communicate on a subsequent occasion, nothing to persuade them of communication’s value or to show them how it might be accomplished. Instead, he set up a “boot camp”. It is not difficult to predict that if he lets students know ahead of time that he is planning to repeat this activity, some will probably choose to be absent. Another aspect of teaching Situational Leadership to methodology students is that it can provide them with a means of influencing colleagues as well. The classroom teacher is not restricted only to leading students. If leadership is defined in terms of the process of attempting to influence others (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982: p. 83), in certain situations the teacher may be a leader to colleagues and even supervisors as well. If we wish trained EFL teachers to function as change agents (Collett, 1981: p. 6), we must provide the requisite skills of change agentry, and situational leadership can be one of them. At least, students can be instructed in the use of positive reinforcers (socioemotionally supportive praise or compliments) when colleagues or supervisors are observed performing even slight approximations of desired behaviour; as Blanchard (1985: p. 8) points out, “the key to developing people is to catch them doing something right”. CONCLUSION Situational Leadership is useful anywhere there is a mismatch between the appropriate subject matter or method of teaching, as seen by the committed, well-trained teacher, and the expectations of the students, whether these expectations are based on their culture’s perceptions of how education is supposed to proceed or on their preconceptions of the subject matter. In this regard, another instance where it can enhance teacher education is in the teaching of linguistics. Just as Chinese students are often reluctant to study methodology, so are American students often reluctant to study linguistics. Yet if we believe linguistics to be an essential component of a teacher education program, it is, as in the case of methodology, our responsibility to find ways to make it acceptable to our students. Promising attempts in that direction are made by Barratt (1985) and Barry (1985), even though neither author explicitly recognises the situational leadership framework as an explanation of her efforts, which in each case apparently resulted in highly successful and well-received courses. In any case, this is an area which needs to be explored. Situational Leadership cannot solve all the problems of the teacher educator faced with students reluctant to learn methodology or other customary portions of the educational program. Nevertheless, it merits consideration as a means to help students adjust to the new material and carry out their study effectively. REFERENCES BARRAm, L. (1985) Notes from the underground: Innovations in Linguistics Education 4, 51-67.

a descriptivist’s journey into the land of the prescriptivists.

420

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BARRY,

A. K. (1985) Teaching

English

grammar

G. OSBURNE

to speakers

Innovations in Linguistics Education

of English.

4, 69-X. BLANCHARD, K. H. (1985) SL II: a Situational Approach Development Corporation.

to Managing People. Blanchard

COLLETT, R. J. (1981) Whose reality? Mismatch of perceptions Document Reproduction Service No. ED 213 265.

of ESL pupils and teachers

COWAN, J. R., LIGHT, R. R., MATHEWS, B. E. and TUCKER, a recent survey. TESOL Quarterly 13, 465-478. DUNLAP,

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