This paper proposes a new model for understanding education through ‘responsible leadership’ – a term which draws on the models of distributed and authentic leadership and on a dialogic understanding of responsible action. It defines ‘dispositions for learning’ as different forms of the single quality of ‘openness to learning’. A ‘pedagogy of challenge’ is proposed as a way of developing these dispositions. The model is tested through a small-scale investigation into the effect of a two-day leadership education course on five 14-year-old students which conforms to the proposed model. This suggests a link between the students’ participation and their dispositions for learning; in addition, it suggests change in their attitude towards, and perceived performance in, their academic subjects over a four-month period. It also highlights potential conflicts between promoting responsible leadership and curricular, assessment-focused learning. Larger-scale studies are recommended.
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