26 SES 11 B, Leadership in Post Conflicts and Disadvantaged Contexts
Milligan (2010) has pointed out that interest in education after military conflict, often on a national scale, has grown considerably over the last decade. This might well be because such contemporary conflict tends to be more deadly for children and more destructive of civilian infrastructure, including schools, than traditional wars (Mundy & Dryden-Peterson, 2011). As a consequence, conventional priorities in these contexts, including the provision of food, shelter, and healthcare, no longer take precedence over schooling, which is now recognised as being essential to maintaining communities, to the psychological recovery of children and to the general recovery of society. Milligan (2010) has also pointed out that although there is an emerging body of literature that considers the challenges and needs of students and teachers in post-conflict conditions, particularly those of the post-new war type, the area of educational leadership in these contexts has been neglected. We concur with this observation, while also emphasising that school leadership, specifically, is even more barren terrain from a research perspective. The main purpose of this paper, therefore, is to contribute to rectifying the latter deficit by highlighting the ways in which school leadership is understood and practised between and among eight post-new war countries.
The research on which the paper is based should be of particular interest to European educationists since all eight countries are former European colonies. In each of the countries, the colonial legacy has provided a powerful backdrop to the development of schools requiring a quality of leadership that displays a confidence to challenge much of established thinking and practice (MacBeath & Swaffield, 2013). Also, current donors from the former colonial powers and Euopean-wide aid agencies supporting educational development in these countries would benefit from an appreciation of this complexity if they are to maximise the possibility that their efforts will be successful. By examining such a rich combination of contexts, we have been able to reveal more clearly the issues and influences that school leaders face as they perform their work, the nature of the context within which these issues and influences arise, the strategies school leaders adopt to deal with the complexities of their work, and the reasons behind these strategies.
It is also possible to identify some implications presented by the specific needs, concerns, challenges and problems faced by school leaders in new post-war contexts for policy for practice and for research. To this end, we refer to the three main learning agendas that are purported to exist within a school (Knapp, Copland, & McLaughlin, 2003) as an orchestrating framework for portraying the complexities of school leaders’ day-to-day work in the extraordinarily challenging circumstances that typify post-new war settings. In keeping with our focus on leadership in individual schools, we concentrate our attention on ‘organisational learning’, ‘teacher learning’ and student learning’. The agenda for organisational learning is primarily concerned with providing the appropriate conditions and opportunities for bringing to fruition the hidden capital of everyone associated with the school. The agenda for teacher learning is primarily concerned with building the intellectual and professional capacity of teachers in the school. The agenda for students’ learning is primarily concerned with building the academic and social capacity of all students in the school. These learning agendas, of course, are not discrete, but tend to overlap in extremely complex ways.
Knapp, M.S., Copland, M. and Talbert, J. (2003). Leading for learning: Reflective tools for school and district leaders. Seattle, WA: Centre for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington. Lichtman, M. (2010). Understanding and evaluating qualitative educational research. Michigan: Sage Publications Ltd. MacBeath, J. and Swaffield, S. (2013). Ghana: resolving the tensions between colonial values and contemporary policies. In S.R.P. Clarke & T.A. O’Donoghue (eds), School level leadership in post-conflict societies. The importance of context, London, Routledge, pp.49-63. Milligan, J. A. (2010). The prophet and the engineer meet under the mango tree: Leadership, education, and conflict in the Southern Philippines. Educational Policy, 24(1), pp. 28-51. Munday, K. and Dryden-Peterson, S. (2011). Educating children in zones of conflict: An overview and introduction. In K. Munday, and S. Dryden-Peterson (eds). Educating Children in Conflict Zones. Research, Policy and Practice for Systemic Change (pp.1-12). New York Teachers College Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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Network 4. Inclusive Education
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