23 SES 08 B, Education as a Site of Struggle
In the field of education opposing rethorics have flourished, traditional boundaries have been blurred and discursive complexity has increased. Nonetheless, some ideas, although re-contextualized, seem to play a crucial role in many national education reforms across the western world. Leadership is one of those “tyrannic” ideas (Ball, 2007). Leadership has been defined by neoliberal discourses as one of the most relevant levers of change. Neoliberal reforms have increasingly focused on processes of “leadership design” (Gronn, 2003), using them as “dispositif de distraction” (apparatuses-devices of distraction) (Gunter, 2005) from the pursuing of egalitarian and democratic practices of schooling.
Given this scenario, the paper deals with the fashioning idea of distributed leadership and the related issue of education ecology democratization. The last decade has seen the flourishing of a wide debate on distributed leadership (Spillane, 2006), which seems to have significant ‘political’ and theoretical implications. Different discourses have co-opted this really fashionable concept, emphasizing one or another semantic interpretation the adjective ‘distributed’ could imply. The results has been the development of a complex labyrinth of ideas, definitions and theories.
In this scenario, we focus specifically on the works by Spillane and Diamond (2007), Harris (2008a; 2008b) and Leithwood, Mascall and Strauss (2009). It is our opinion that they represent some of the most relevant recent developments about distributed leadership and, at the same time, are a good sample of the contradictory understandings of the concept.
The aim of this paper is to analyse those works in order to construct a classificatory and interpretative map that allow differences (and similarities) in the conceptualizations of distributed leadership to come out. Our objective is to show how this idea has been re-contextualized within distinctive discursive frames and ontological and epistemological conceptions. Moreover, the ‘political’ implications of this framing will be highlighted.
Ball S.J., (2006), Education policy and social class, Routledge, London. Ball S.J., (2007), Education PLC, Understanding private sector participation in public sector education, Routledge, London. Bottery M., (2004), The Challenges of Educational Leadership, Paul Chapman, London. Bottery M., (2006), “Context in the Study and Practice of Leadership in Education: A Historical Perspective” in Journal of Educational Administration and History, 38(2), August, pp. 169-183. Grace G., (1995), School Leadership: Beyond Education Management, The Falmer Press, London. Grace G., (2002), Catholic Schools: Mission, Markets and Morality, Routledge, London. Gronn P., (2003), The New Work of Educational Leaders, Sage, London. Gronn P., (2009), “Ibryd Leadership”, in Leithwood K., Mascall B., Strass T., (Eds.), Distributed Leadership According to the Evidence, Routledge New York. Gronn P., Ribbins P., (1996), “Leaders in Context: Postpositivist Approaches to Understanding Educational Leadership”, in Educational Administration Quarterly, 32(3), pp. 452-473. Gunter H.M., (2005), Leading Teachers, Continuum, London. Gunter H.M., Ribbins P., (2003), “The field of Educational Leadership: Studying Maps and Mapping Studies”, in British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(3), pp. 254–81. Harris A., (2008), Distributed School Leadership. Developing tomorrow’s leaders, Routledge, London. Harris A., Spillane J., (2008), “Distributed Leadership through the Looking Glass”, in Management in Education, 22(1), pp. 31-34. Leithwood K., Mascall B., Strauss T., (Eds.), (2009), “New Perspectives on an Old Idea: A Short History of the Old Idea”, in Leithwood K., Mascall B., Strass T., (Eds.), Distributed Leadership According to the Evidence, Routledge New York. Seddon T., (1994), Context and beyond. Reframing the theory and practice of education, Falmer Press, London. Spillane J.P., (2006), Distributed leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Spillane J.P., Diamond J.B., (2007), Distributed Leadership in Practice, Teachers College Columbia University, London. Thrupp M., Willmott R., (2003), Education management in managerialist times. Beyond the Textual Apologists, Open University Press, Maidenhead. Woods P.A., (2005), Democratic Leadership in Education, Paul Chapman, London.
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