26 SES 16 B, International Perspectives on Educational Leadership
Leaders take important place in our history, culture, imagination. Leadership is an extremely popular issue of practice and research in various areas (from military through economy to education). The notion of the central importance of leadership has been accepted and institutionalized both in business and in public sphere. Numerous reports show how important leadership is. This analysis is right, but the precise meaning and connections are usually under-specified. There is tendency to treat leadership as a catch-all and a panacea, but little detailed examination of the concept of leadership. Its value is simply asserted and its nature is assumed (John Storey, 2004, p. 4.)
Two facts decide about our world: social „character” of the human kind and communication in symbolic way. We are designers and builders of the social life, so this is important to understand that our assumption, beliefs, value systems and mental models influence our behavior, which impacts the reality. The social world develops accordingly to our “instruction” visible in our activities. Our perception of the world “makes” the world. In our daily work and interactions with others we always refer to our knowledge, so the limits of our knowledge are limits of our reality (P.L. Berger, T. Luckmann, 1966). Furthermore, it is possible to influence reality by impacting of the perception of reality. People modify their knowledge (what should lead to modifications of reality) through the social relations and dialogue. This is a reason of the need to develop and maintain the space for and habit of the constant dialogue (also about leadership). Leadership, civil society and democracy in European Union and globally need open discourse.
Unfortunately, the role of the leadership in a democracy is problematic. Democracy is based on the assumption of sovereignty – power in the people. Leaders are often called to rescue democratic societies, but the very notion of leadership brings tensions. Popular conviction dictate that there must be a leader, the few must govern the many. Lately, many practitioners and researchers were looking for more participatory approach to the working of democracy, but the difficulties of creating and maintaining effective democracy remain obvious (T. Wren, 2011).
Leadership, as a construct and a reality, plays important role in our post-modern democracy. Educational leadership decides about reality in educational sector and as a result deciding about our potential and ability to face contemporary challenges. Although we will be always prisoners of our mental models, because it is extremely difficult, to think and act in contradiction to this in what we believe, it is important to try to understand complex meaning of words and concepts we use. Leadership and educational leadership are among those the most important, which we have tendency to treat in simplistic way. Additionally, because of the popular, international (mainly academic discourse) some key words became extremely popular and there is a tendency to treat them in simplistic, superficial way, with that common assumption that “everybody knows” what something means. Starting from that point I will try to compose a jigsaw of words and concepts influencing the understanding of the educational leadership trying to show differences and similarities in thinking among different groups teachers, principals, local authorities, experts and researchers also distributed internationally. I assume that constructed meaning owned by these groups will show difficulties for coherent cooperation and I also believe that it will be visible between national groups and that national comparisons will be possible.
Do respondents share the understanding of the aims of education?
Do respondents share the understanding of the educational leadership?
Do respondents share the understanding of the contemporary challenges?
100 individual interviews (50 already conducted) with teachers, principals, and academics from different countries in Europe and both Americas, focused on aims of education, understanding the educational leadership, defining challenges of the contemporary world and practice in the respondents' school were conducted.
Educational leaders, interviewed, present extremely high involvement in their work and care about their students. Although in general the picture emerging from interviews show engaged professionals they own different theoretical framework of education, focus on different practices, and believe that they are responsible for achieving different aims in different context. The interviews are still not finished. Final conclusions will be shown during conference. The main task of leaders in schools today is to create the environment that would help develop citizens supporting democracy and able creatively solve different kinds of crisis in European Union and globally. They need to participate in conversation about values of democracy, solidarity and fairness. It will be possible only when we invent the common vocabulary and language, in which this conversation might be led.
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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