Public Purposes of Education

The public purposes of education across the Western world are based on common ideologies of social justice, liberty and equity (Wiseman, 2010). However, certain purposes gain dominance because of the political processes that reflect the climate of that time in history (Gunzenhauser, 2003; Reid, Cranston, Keating, & Mulford, 2011). There is evidence to support the failure of certain accountability arrangements, such as high-stakes testing in certain jurisdictions, when accounting for learning (Siegel, 2004). In Australia, the lack of alignment between the purposes of education and the federal and state arrangements of educational accountability has an effect on the way some educational leaders perceive their responsibilities of leadership notably their accountability of learning (Cranston, Reid, Mulford, & Keating, 2011). Pertinent to this blog is the educational leader’s ideologies about the purposes of education and the way these could have an effect on their interpretations of leading learning.

The next section identifies the influence of the economic and social climate on the public purposes of education. It identifies Australia’s public purposes of education and explains in general terms the way governments determine the shape and delivery of policy in their assessment-focused accountability and how certain arrangements affect leaders as they carry out the public purpose of education.

The economic, political and social climate for any particular time in history informs the priority given to particular educational purposes (Gunzenhauser, 2003; Reid et al., 2011). For instance in England in 2006, the emphasis was on the challenge to reform education through improvement in performance outputs (Education and Inspections Act, 2006). In the US at the turn of the century, the emphasis was on improvement in learning, with particular attention to closing achievement gaps and minimising disadvantage (“No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” 2002). In South Korea and Singapore in 2008–2009, the emphasis was on social and economic regeneration (Darling-Hammond, 2010). In Australia, by the turn of the century the emphasis was on citizenship and economic responsibility (Lingard, 2010) as well as individual purpose (Cranston et al., 2011), with an increased accountability for outputs in education (Rowe, 2005).

Governments make choices regarding which public purposes take precedence (Biesta, 2004; Shipps & White, 2009). In education, economic aims have been pushed to the foreground (Siegel, 2004). For instance, in England at the turn of the century, one of the economic aims involved a significant vocational aspect, such as individual employment and social well-being through economic prosperity (Wilkins, 2002). This section examines the choices that the Australian Government has made in determining which purposes of education should take precedence.

Public Purposes in Australian Education

In the era of the federal Labor Government (2007–2012), a priority on citizens being competent economic contributors increased the focus on performance results in education (Lingard, 2010) rather than inputs on resources (Rowe, 2005). This economic priority, combined with the priorities from the Howard era that promoted choice of schooling, found their expression in the dominant assessment-focused accountability arrangements in this country.

According to (Reid et al., 2011), during the time of this study, Australia’s public purposes of education were dominated by three aspects: the democratic purpose, in which ‘society expects its schools to prepare young people to be active and competent participants in democratic life’; the individual purpose, which ‘aims to advantage the individual in social and economic life’; and the economic purpose, which ‘aims to prepare young people as competent economic contributors’ (p. 20, underline added). That is, the purposes that had precedence in Australia at the time of this study were the individual and economic purposes (Cranston et al., 2011; Reid et al., 2011).

The economic and individual priorities of these educational purposes were reflected in elements such as the structures of schooling, the culture and processes of schooling, and importantly for Norris’s research, the assessment and reporting practices of the official curriculum (Reid et al., 2011). These priorities and the way they have shaped education policies in Australia are discussed below.

In the period of the Howard Liberal federal government (1996–2007) the individual purpose in education was a significant priority, with education policy aiming ‘to advantage the individual in social and economic life’ (Reid et al., 2011, p. 20) and shaping policies that were premised on a view of education as a commodity (Bezzina, 2000). One priority, reflecting the individual purpose, was the emphasis on facilitating parents’ and students’ choice of school (Lingard, 2010; Reid et al., 2011). ‘Choice of school’ is characteristic of a neoliberal world view, which is believed by some to be a normalised practice in current Australian education (Angus, 2015). This emphasis, in turn, may have influenced the accountability mechanisms being used. For instance in Australia, reflecting this individual purpose, the My School website provides parents and students with public information on student performance results, to help them choose a school (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2009). The possible effects that these priorities may have on leaders are of interest, especially for those engaged in the leadership of learning and teaching.

References:

Angus, L. (2015). School choice: neoliberal education policy and imagined futures. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(3), 395-413.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2009). My School and Beyond, from http://www.acara.edu.au/acara_update_14122009.html

Bezzina, M. (2000). Catholic Education: Corporate Commodity or Common Good. Paper presented at the The Inaugural Ann D. Clark Lecture, Parramatta, Sydney, Australia.

Biesta, G. J. J. (2004). Education, Accountability, and the Ethical Demand: Can the Democratic Potential of Accountability Be Regained? Educational Theory, 54(3), 233-250. doi: 10.1111/j.0013-2004.2004.00017.x

Cranston, N., Reid, A., Mulford, B., & Keating, J. (2011). What do we know about the purposes of education and their enactment in Australian primary schools? Tha Australian Educational Leader, 33(3), 20-25.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gunzenhauser, M. G. (2003). High-Stakes Testing and the Default Philosophy of Education. Theory Into Practice, 42(1), 51-58. doi: 10.1207/s15430421tip4201_7

Lingard, B. (2010). Policy borrowing, policy learning: testing times in Australian schooling. Critical studies in Education, 51(2), 129-147.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,  107-110  (2002).

Reid, A., Cranston, N., Keating, J., & Mulford, B. (2011). Bringing back the public purposes of education. Professional Educator, 10?, 20-23.

Rowe, K. (2005). Evidence for the kinds of feedback data that support both student and teacher learning. Paper presented at the The Australian Council for Educational Research 2005 Conference, Melbourne.

Shipps, D., & White, M. (2009). A New Politics of the Principalship? Accountability-Driven Change in New York City. Peabody Journal of Education, 84(3), 350-373. doi: 10.1080/01619560902973563

Siegel, H. (Ed.). (2004). What ought matter in public schooling: Judgment, standards, and responsible accountability. New York: Teachers College Press.

Wiseman, A. W. (2010). The Uses of Evidence for Educational Policymaking: Global Contexts and International Trends. Review of Research in Education, 34(1), 1-24. doi: 10.3102/0091732×09350472

 

Thread: Scaffold for setting educational leadership goals

Dr Judith Norris

Rationale for Goal Goal Alignment with College/School Mission Strategy Evidence
What is the emerging need that has precipitated this goal i.e. the rationale? What verbs can I employ to ensure explicitness? How does the goal align with the College goal? What leadership knowledge or skill do I need to engage? What behaviours would be seen/heard/felt if the strategy was being implemented?

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Thread: Scaffold for setting educational leadership goals

Rationale for Goal Goal Alignment with College/School Mission Strategy Evidence
What is the emerging need that has precipitated this goal i.e. the rationale? What verbs can I employ to ensure explicitness? How does the goal align with the College goal? What leadership knowledge or skill do I need to engage? What behaviours would be seen/heard/felt if the strategy was being implemented?

Thread: Conceptualising educational leadership as a verb

Those who study, research and practise leadership undisputedly would argue that there is a plethora of meanings, theories and adjectives about leadership. However, for this blog and the blogger defining terms may be helpful – even if for provocative purposes.  I would like to consider leadership as a verb.  To establish this platform I make several comments about the term itself. First, the concept of leadership can be broader than, yet at the same time can be inclusive of, the concept of leader. Second, leadership may be referred to as a noun, an adjective as well as a verb. As a noun leadership could be referring to a position – for example the leadership of the organisation ‘the leadership of this school community is awe inspiring’. As an adjective it may describe the person or team – for example the leadership team. As a verb leadership may be referred to as the enactments of the ‘being’ – for example reasonable acts of leadership may evidenced as mobilising, influencing or persuading. Conversely, acts of leadership could be stabilising, implementing or embedding.

There are several reasons for privileging the verb idea. The first is that leadership as a verb diminishes the seduction of narrowing leadership to a hierarchical position. The second reason is that leadership could belong to the ‘doing’ between and with people. The third is that conceptualising leadership as a verb frees us from possible binary thinking, such as ‘leading or managing’ (Bloxham, Ehrich, & Iyer, 2015) or between ‘transforming or transacting’ (Jung & Avolio, 2000).

Let’s apply the verb concept to the mobilising and influencing idea of leadership. While mobilising has various meanings when referring to leadership it could also be likened to, yet not limited to, managing or organising. Importantly mobilising connotes moving from one position to another. Influencing could include meanings of, yet also not limited to, persuading, transforming or empowering. If we continue thinking that leadership being enacted between and with people it can be viewed as a relationship. If we add to the recipe the reasonable notion that leadership is mobilising and influencing we could say that leadership is a mobilising and influencing relationship. This definition holds elements of similarity with Patrick Duignan’s ideas (2008; 2015) where he describes leadership as an ‘influence relationship’[1]and Branson, Franken, and Penney (2016 in Press) who examine the relationships of middle leaders as up and down – notably a trans relational approach of middle leaders. Eacott (2015) examines leadership relationally yet in my interpretation Eacott’s conceptualisation is as distinct from or different lens to Duignan and Branson, Franken and Penny.

To this point this discussion has led to our thinking of leadership as a verb with a certain mission – one of mobilising – one point or positon to another point or position and one of influencing. Mobilising and influencing is in the context of between and/or with people. Hopefully you will find this a useful orientation for engaging in the redthread.blog. One other area however that requires deliberation is the educational bit of the leadership. Education can be quite a broad term. We leave such definitions to the blogger to describe their context of education or educational.

 

Bloxham, R., Ehrich, L. C., & Iyer, R. (2015). Leading or managing? Assistant Regional Directors, School Performance, in Queensland. Journal of Educational Administration, 53(3), 354-373.

Branson, C. M., Franken, M., & Penney, D. (2016 in Press). Reconceptualsing middle leadership in higher education: A transrelational approach. In J. McNiff (Ed.), Values and Virtues in higher educaiton: Critical perspectives. Abington, Oxon: Rutledge.

Danielewicz, J. (2014). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education: SUNY Press.

Duignan, P. (2008). Leadership: Influencing Relationships and Authentic Presence: Centre for Strategic Education.

Duignan, P. (2015). Authenticity in educational leadership: History, ideal, reality. Leading and Managing, 21(1), 1.

Eacott, S. (2015). Educational leadership relationally: a theory and methodology for educational leadership, management and administration: Springer.

Fairhurst, G. T., & Grant, D. (2010). The social construction of leadership: A sailing guide. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(2), 171-210.

Jung, D. I., & Avolio, B. J. (2000). Opening the black box: An experimental investigation of the mediating effects of trust and value congruence on transformational and transactional leadership. Journal of organizational Behavior, 21(8), 949-964.

Koyama, J. (2014). Principals as Bricoleurs Making Sense and Making Do in an Era of Accountability. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(2), 279-304.

Sieler, A. (2015). Ontology: A Theoretical Basis for Coaching, from http://www.newfieldinstitute.com.au/pdf/001_Ontology_A_Theoretical_Basis.pdf

[1] Patrick Duignan’s concept of the ‘influence relationship’ suggests between and with people, his concept however, remains as an adjectival noun and not a ‘doing’ as a verb.

Threads, bricoleurs, leadership and leaders

Having a blog that just posts about everything and anything about educational leadership probably is far too broad, not useful for anyone and results in a huge time drain. The redthread.blog is about the interior world of educational leaders. By education we are meaning school settings. This blog may be of interest to the practitioner leader such as principals, assistant principals, coordinators and teacher leaders along with students from masters programs of educational leadership, management and administration.
The content  of this blog privileges the psycho social processes of educational leaders. By ‘psycho’ processes we mean the way a leader individually constructs meaning of events and experiences – through cognition i.e. speech acts, feelings and moods and body (Sieler, 2015). With regard to ‘socio’ processes we mean how leaders construct meaning in social relationships with and through others – again this co construction may be through cognition, mood and body (Fairhurst & Grant, 2010). Such psycho social processes contribute to educational leaders’ professional identities. While teacher identity is a common and essential emphasis in initial teacher education programs little has been researched about the educational leader’s or principal’s professional identity (Danielewicz, 2014). Moreover there is a paucity of research about the internal world of educational leaders in a general sense. As external pressures press down on leaders it raises the question to what extent these pressures influence leaders’ own sensemaking, carving out educational leaders’ identities and inducing enactments – such as how leaders build coherence in their learning communities from such pressures.
The purpose of this blog is to connect and weave others thoughts together about this particular aspect about educational leadership – hence the namesake of the blog which is borrowed from the Chinese proverb: ‘The invisible red thread connects those irrespective of circumstance or place. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break’ (author unknown). Resembling the red thread, this blog may expand to other knowledge areas, our thread may become interwoven and on occasion dormant however the blog will endure. However the redthread.blog goes further than connecting it weaves ideas, concepts and theories. I draw on Jill Koyama’s (2014) metaphor of the educational leader. In Jill’s research the principal is the bricoleur. She situates the bricoleur within the actor-network theory. The bricoleur within the assemblage aligns with the ANT by focusing analytic attention on disparate members and practices to form dynamic associations (Koyama, 2014). In this sense, we can equate the blogger as the bricoleur weaving ideas together to form a bricolage. The bricolage is the construction of an array or diverse range of thoughts, often what just happens to comes to hand or available at the time (Thesaurus).
Those who study, research and practice leadership undisputedly would argue that there is a plethora of meanings, theories and adjectives about leadership However, for this blog and the blogger defining terms may be helpful – even if for provocative purposes. To establish this platform I would like to make several comments about the term itself. First, the concept of leadership can be broader than, yet at the same time can be inclusive of, the concept of leader. Second, leadership may be referred to as a noun, an adjective as well as a verb. As a noun leadership could be referring to a position – for example the leadership of the organisation ‘the leadership of this school community is awe inspiring’. As an adjective it may describe the person or team – for example the leadership team. As a verb leadership may be referred to as the enactments of the ‘doing’ – for example a reasonable ‘doing’ of leadership could be mobilising or influencing.
There are several reasons for privileging the verb idea. The first is that leadership as a verb diminishes the seduction of narrowing leadership to a hierarchical position. The second reason is that leadership could belong to the ‘doing’ between and with people. The third is that conceptualising leadership as a verb frees us from possible binary thinking, such as ‘leading or managing’ (Bloxham, Ehrich, & Iyer, 2015) or between ‘transforming or transacting’ (Jung & Avolio, 2000).
Let’s apply the verb concept to the mobilising and influencing idea of leadership. While mobilising has various meanings when referring to leadership it could also be likened to, yet not limited to, managing or organising. Importantly mobilising connotes moving from one position to another. Influencing could include meanings of, yet also not limited to, persuading, transforming or empowering. If we continue thinking that leadership being enacted between and with people it can be viewed as a relationship. If we add to the recipe the reasonable notion that leadership is mobilising and influencing we could say that leadership is a mobilising and influencing relationship. This definition holds elements of similarity with Patrick Duignan’s ideas (2008; 2015) where he describes leadership as an ‘influence relationship’ and Branson, Franken, and Penney (2016 in Press) who examine the relationships of middle leaders as up and down – notably a trans relational approach of middle leaders. Eacott (2015) examines leadership relationally yet in my interpretation Eacott’s conceptualisation is as distinct from or different lens to Duignan and Branson, Franken and Penny.
To this point this discussion has led to our thinking of leadership as a verb with a certain mission – one of mobilising – one point or positon to another point or position and one of influencing. Mobilising and influencing is in the context of between and/or with people. Hopefully you will find this a useful orientation for engaging in the redthread.blog. One other area however that requires deliberation is the educational bit of the leadership. Education can be quite a broad term. We leave such definitions to the blogger to describe their context of education or educational.

Bloxham, R., Ehrich, L. C., & Iyer, R. (2015). Leading or managing? Assistant Regional Directors, School Performance, in Queensland. Journal of Educational Administration, 53(3), 354-373.
Branson, C. M., Franken, M., & Penney, D. (2016 in Press). Reconceptualsing middle leadership in higher education: A transrelational approach. In J. McNiff (Ed.), Values and Virtues in higher educaiton: Critical perspectives. Abington, Oxon: Rutledge.
Danielewicz, J. (2014). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy, and teacher education: SUNY Press.
Duignan, P. (2008). Leadership: Influencing Relationships and Authentic Presence: Centre for Strategic Education.
Duignan, P. (2015). Authenticity in educational leadership: History, ideal, reality. Leading and Managing, 21(1), 1.
Eacott, S. (2015). Educational leadership relationally: a theory and methodology for educational leadership, management and administration: Springer.
Fairhurst, G. T., & Grant, D. (2010). The social construction of leadership: A sailing guide. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(2), 171-210.
Jung, D. I., & Avolio, B. J. (2000). Opening the black box: An experimental investigation of the mediating effects of trust and value congruence on transformational and transactional leadership. Journal of organizational Behavior, 21(8), 949-964.
Koyama, J. (2014). Principals as Bricoleurs Making Sense and Making Do in an Era of Accountability. Educational Administration Quarterly, 50(2), 279-304.
Sieler, A. (2015). Ontology: A Theoretical Basis for Coaching, from http://www.newfieldinstitute.com.au/pdf/001_Ontology_A_Theoretical_Basis.pdf

Threads, patterns and bricoleurs

‘An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break’ Chinese proverb

Welcome to this blog where the threads are woven in and around  educational leadership. Patterns emerge as bricoleurs co construct meaning. I encourage you to  engage the bricoleur in you and to find the threads and weave the patterns with others.