07 SES 10 C, Learning Spaces for Inclusion and Social Justice: Success Stories from Immigrant Students and School Communities in four Nordic Countries
Cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity is increasing in Iceland and the same applies to Icelandic preschools. Scholars have pointed out that this development can have both positive and negative effect on societies. The negative effects being increased marginalization of people of immigrant background that have not adapted to the mainstream culture and norms (Parekh 2006). This can result in distrust between different social groups (Putnam, 2007). How school leadership reacts to increased diversity is of great importance in determining whether minority groups will be marginalized or not. In order to prevent marginalization of minority groups, democratic leadership practices are considered to be more effective than more traditional leadership practices (Coleman, 2012; Woods, 2005). Studying leadership in three pre-schools in Iceland the focus was on exploring how democracy represents itself in the schools leadership and if it promotes inclusion and social justice with in the school community? The research is qualitative. Data was gathered with semi-structured interviews with principals, teachers and parents in three Icelandic preschools and analyzed thematically. Three different types of democratic leadership are identified, according to the framework of Woods (2005). These types range from liberal minimalism with main focus on protecting rights and interest of minority groups, to developmental democracy which is constantly seeking for common human good (Stokes, 2002). The level of democratic practices is reflected in how actively the families of immigrant background are included in the school community. The findings indicate that the more the leadership emphasis is towards developmental democracy, the more involved immigrant families are in their local community. There is also tendency towards a higher risk of burn-out among the leaders in those schools. The findings also raise a question on the sustainability of developmental democracy.
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