Educational Leadership: A Perspective On The Intellectual/Political State Of The Field

Year: 2015

Author: English, Fenwick W.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This will be a triparte focused presentation on the intellectual/political state of the field of educational leadership from a US perspective. First, it will position the current intellectual/conceptual dominance of structural-functionalism and behaviorism as the axis to define good scholarly work which enjoys government support and dominates most academic journals. Secondly, it will analyze the structure which locks this intellectual/conceptual model in place and has led to the erasure of leadership and reduced it to forms of managerialism. Third it will show how the assault by neoliberal think tanks and politicians work in the popular press to de-professionalize leadership preparation with proposals to remove it from the university setting.
The major conceptual frameworks behind the analysis are Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of field as a contested social space in which three forms of capital work to expand a person, agency or institution’s influence. The field is fluid and always in contention because there is no supra agency which bestows legitimacy. It must be fought for continually. Second will be Michel Foucault’s concept of apparatus as an interlocking set of agencies, institutions and government entities which define what is truth and what can be said and studied and what cannot as well as who is allowed to speak and who is not. Finally, the neoliberal political agenda of attacking the efficacy of public education in order to privatize it for profit will be connected to the overall thrust of the existing programs. Against this backdrop will be a brief presentation of a different sort of research program aimed at restoring human agency to school leadership by thinking about it as a form of connoisseurship and one which is at odds with current definitions of “effective leadership.”
Fenwick W. English is the R. Wendell Eaves Senior Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a position he has held since 2001. He has been a school practitioner serving as a principal and school superintendent, as well as in university roles of department chair, dean, and vice-chancellor of academic affairs. He was the president of UCEA (University Council of Educational Administration) in 2006-07 and President of NCPEA (National Council of Professors of Education) in 2011-12. In 2013 he was awarded the Living Legend award from NCPEA for his lifetime work in the field. He is the author or co-author of over forty books including in 2015 Bourdieu for Educators: Politics and Practice, Editor of The SAGE Guide for Educational Leadership and Management. and co-editor with Rosemary Papa of Educational Leaders Without Borders. In 2015 he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Cultural and Professional Learning, Faculty of Education, at the Queensland University of Technology.