Understanding what principals value about leadership, teaching and learning: A philosophical approach

Year: 2004

Author: Harris, Melinda, Cavanagh, Rob, Reynolds, Peter, Giddings, Geoffrey

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Contemporary views of educational leadership are increasingly focussed on two aspects of the role of school principals - the affective qualities of school leaders and the attention given to pedagogy within the school. Moral and ethical values are seen as important considerations in the leadership role and in the training of school leaders. Understanding the nature of principal value systems including the processes by which particular values develop is an important area of leadership theorising and empirical research. One way forward in this field is to apply a philosophical approach in which value systems are considered as a manifestation of educational philosophy. With regard to leading pedagogy, effective leadership of teacher instruction and student learning is also contingent on the philosophical orientation of the principal. That is, the influence of the principal on the school's pedagogy is dependent on how strongly the principal values this dimension of the leadership role. The authors contend there is a need to investigate exercise of pedagogic leadership within schools from the perspective of philosophic inquiry - to ask questions about the ontology, epistemology and methodology applied by principals as leaders of teaching and learning in the school.