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Using a 'Twist in the Tale' to teach critical leadership studies: Reflections and implications

Sutherland, N; Edwards, Gareth


Gareth Edwards
Professor of Leadership and Community Studies


This paper augments recent discussions around teaching Critical Leadership Studies (CLS) by suggesting that tutors should not only consider the content of CLS-centric teaching, but also how the narrative of critical modules impacts on efficacious learning outcomes. To illustrate this, we compare the introduction of CLS with the reveal of a ‘plot twist’. Plot twists, in film and literature, are moments where there is a radical change in the expected direction of the narrative that forces an audience to re-think what came before. This has distinct parallels with writings on threshold concepts in education studies – concepts, such as CLS, that are difficult and troublesome to understand and accept, but can ultimately lead to irreversible learning and perspective transformation. Herein, we compare the journey that students who are being introduced to CLS for the first time may go on with the narrative arc of the film ‘Fight Club’; exploring the importance of structure and timing and the effectiveness of encouraging emotional buy-in through ‘shock value’ and playing ‘mind games’. Ultimately, we conclude that constructing a module around introducing a plot twist may enable students to think critically about ideas, and overcome threshold concepts.


Sutherland, N., & Edwards, G. (2014, July). Using a 'Twist in the Tale' to teach critical leadership studies: Reflections and implications. Paper presented at 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference, Lancaster

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference
Conference Location Lancaster
Start Date Jul 8, 2014
End Date Jul 9, 2014
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords leadership, teaching
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference