Annual Cluff Lecture Focuses on Creating Networks and Relationships Among Educators

Alan J. Daly

Alan J. Daly

“Leading, Learning, and Leveraging Educational Change: The Role of Social Capital” was the title of the 2015 annual Benjamin Cluff Jr. Lecture. Alan J. Daly, professor of education studies at the University of California, San Diego, presented research that focused on the importance of interdependence and interconnectivity among educators.

“Our challenge in education is being greater than ourselves,” Daly said. He went on to discuss how Benjamin Cluff Jr. exemplified this idea. Cluff’s educational innovations show today’s educators important steps to success in their field: nurturing community, connecting minds, creating networks, and expanding horizons.

Daly stressed that educators need to go beyond generating great ideas by putting them into practice. He used a striking analogy with a picture of hippos in ballet skirts, saying that we must learn to teach the hippos to dance. “In education we often generate big ideas (hippos) that don’t go anywhere. We need to put those great, big ideas to work (teach them to dance).”

Daly explained that to accomplish change in education we must be aware of culture. “Understanding how people are when they’re together is fundamental in how we function and accomplish things,” Daly said. “Real power and energy are generated through relationships.” He supported this point with his research, showing that schools with high levels of trust had seven times higher academic profitability than those with low levels.

Daly’s research concentrated on organizational context, including the importance of building responsive, interdependent cultures. He said the research led him to believe that educators should avoid being policy and rule driven; they must learn to be flexible. Daly emphasized how education must move from formal to informal systems, because informal system leadership is distributed more equally, allowing anyone to be a leader. This helps to create what Daly calls “intellectual capital.” Bringing in outside ideas stimulates thinking and creates something very powerful.

Daly described ways Cluff brought outside ideas to Brigham Young University, with positive impact still evident today. Cluff family members who were in attendance were honored that Daly spent so much time researching Cluff’s life and work.

“Dr. Daly's professional yet personal and engaging manner complemented his insightful research on interconnectivity and the power of culture,” said Bart Kiser, a great-grandson of Cluff. “He was inspiring to all in attendance and particularly endeared himself to the family by his research of President Cluff's personal journals and application of those findings into his presentation.”

Writer: Madeline Schmidt

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922