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Comparing School Leadership: A Discursive Approach to School Leadership and Curriculum Policy
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Studies in Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5554-6041
Oslo University.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we take our point of departure from a discursive understanding of both curriculum and educational leadership. Among researchers as well as policy makers, a distributive perspective on leadership in schools has aroused intense interest. In the most basic terms, a distributive view of leadership recognizes that school leadership can involve multiple individuals in addition to the school principal, ‘the leader-plus aspect,’ and that leading a school is fundamentally about interactions, rather than about the actions of individual leaders (Spillane & Healey, 2010). Although we find the institutional approach in empirical studies on distributed leadership contributing to a renewed understanding of leadership in schools, we argue that the approach risks being both too general, i.e., that there is no distinction between the management of the school and other social practices (see Young, 2008), and too restricted, i.e., that each school / district is considered as its own independent unit. We therefore suggest the extension of theories and models of educational leadership research, in which transnational educational policy formations, national governing systems, and local school management practices are taken into account.

 

The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize educational leadership by taking two turns: first to curriculum theory (Doyle, 1992; Deng & Luke, 2008) and second to discursive institutionalism (Schmidt, 2010). There are three primary reasons for these turns. First, the meaning of educational leadership is embedded in a larger context of transnational policy where actors show a central interest in leadership in school through networks (e.g., European Policy on School Leadership) and reports (e.g., EU, 2009, 2013; OECD, 2008a, 2008b, 2014; McKinsey, 2010). Second, the meaning of educational leadership is deeply intertwined with ideological discourses on education at large, and it cannot be distinguished from important matters related to teaching and learning. Third, to fully understand the complexity of educational leadership, there is a need for a conceptual framework that takes into account ideology, structure, and actors.

 

Taking our starting point from the first two levels of classical curriculum theory — the institutional and the programmatic levels (Doyle, 1992) — we examine the relationships between the transnational policy on educational leadership and national meanings and the displacements in two European countries, Sweden and Norway, within a framework of discursive institutionalism (DI). The different discursive levels in the study are related to each other through the concept of recontextualization (Bernstein, 2000). DI involves both the substantive content of educational ideas and interactive processes of change and power relations in institutional contexts through coordinative discourses of policy construction and communicative discourses of political communication (Schmidt, 2010). The primary research method is the textual analysis of transnational and national policy documents, including national curricula in the two countries, but we also illustrate the relations between the global and local school leadership levels by referring to results from the EU (2013) and OECD (2014). 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Pedagogics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-44922OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-44922DiVA: diva2:824363
Conference
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2015 Annual meeting, April 16-April 20, Chicago
Available from: 2015-06-22 Created: 2015-06-22 Last updated: 2015-09-16Bibliographically approved

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