A Changing of the Guard: The change of leadership in post World War II catholic secondary schools

Year: 1998

Author: Stapleton, David

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

What were the historical elements which steered religious orders to be administrators of Catholic secondary schools?

What were the historical factors which resulted in a decline of religious order vocations?

What were the implications of laity taking over the role of administration of Catholic secondary schools?

What historical, social and educational factors were interweaved in the life-formation of these new leaders, and how did these factors impact on the individual leaders?

What impact did the changing of the guard have on the system of Catholic secondary schools as a whole?

The research on the history of Catholic secondary schools is wide-ranging. It has only been over the last two decades or so that the element of leadership of social institutions e.g. schools has been placed under the microscope. It is the aim of this paper not to explore leadership dimensions, nor the significance in full of Catholic education, but rather placing the lay administrator in an historical context encapsulated in two scenarios. Firstly, the paper will address the historical position of the lay teacher in Catholic secondary schools, and how the need arose for lay teachers to become lay leaders of those schools. The second position will view the impact of growing up in the social, educational and religious settings of the same historical period of change on these new leaders.

The writing of a history is only one of many histories of the same past. Documentation, both primary and secondary, provided the historical placement of the study. The history of each of the leaders recorded in oral interviews provides a deep discourse located in experiences and outcomes., creating the 'living background' of the history of the research study. Hermeneutic phenomenology is principally concerned with the illumination of human experience by the description and interpretation of subjective information. Thus through interviews this strategy is used as the basis for gathering and analysing historical developments and their impact on the individuals.

This study concerns itself with an approach that utilises the living persons as products of the historical development under research. In its own right, this study stands alone. It captures a history of people who lead, a history of a special group of schools, a history of an ideologically-based education, and a history of a developing society. It gives insight into the persons known as the leaders of a unique group of schools. This study may lead to a detailed study of such persons Australia-wide, in an effort to ascertain professional characteristics amid the understanding of individual journeys. Data from such a study would provide employers within the organisation of these particular schools with a well-formulated background of person, experience, and knowledge, which could then used as a benchmark in future employment of persons for a similar position. Furthermore, the study could be paralleled to other completed studies of school systems outside a particular ideology.