Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Educational Philosophy
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Framing educational leadership, learning and school discipline the postmodern way
Change leadership with school effectiveness as a goal must embark on challenging of conventions and status
quo, critical pedagogy, the mixing of styles, tolerance of ambiguity, emphasis on diversity, implementation of
innovation and change, and demands on the societal norm construct of realism. Postmodernism’s most central
force is its legitimacy to challenge the validity of some basic assumption of modernism. Postmodernism as a
perspective focuses upon the disagree-ability of language, the ordinariness of discourse, the de-centering and
disintegration of the conception of self, the importance of the "other," a recognition of the unyielding,
unbreakable knowledge / control union, the dwindling of a belief in meta-narratives, and the rebuff of
dependence upon rationalism.
Postmodernism embraces leadership that is dedicated to a just and equitable school. Schools are not just
bureaucratic establishments but places of character building for the different social and cultural groups whose
children are educated there. If schools are places of possibility and opportunity rather than simple preservers of
the status quo, then leaders must immerse in social and cultural change as Henderson (2004) suggests.
Purpose of the article
The purpose of this article is to illustrate how postmodernism can positively impact educational
leadership, reform and change in schools. More school administrators’ roles have changed as they grasp the
benefits from the impact of post-modernism on school transformation.
Postmodernism and change
The chief obstacle to “change” is not changes to technologies and work procedures but changes
involving people. A postmodern epistemology on educational leadership requires a inherent paradigm shift but
will bring epistemological, bureaucratic, and rigid issues to the fore on how schools (especially high schools)
educate. Marzano (2003) posits that schools must also give teachers time to analyze and discuss state and
district curriculum materials (DuFour, 2004). Postmodernism will change “dumbing down” curriculums and
replace it with one engrossed in pragmatic constructivism as an embrace to good discipline. It necessitate high
teacher efficacy to reach all children without teaching to low expectation. Post modern implementation s does
not just lead through structures and systems but enroll the entire school community to ‘feel’ the leadership.
Acuity forms the development of existence of knowledge and experience within the school curriculum.
Educational leaders should understand that students' learning can develop by connecting them to emperical
learning. The task of administrators is to encourage student success by facilitating the creation and
implementation of a common vision shared by all members in the community (English, 2003). Researchers
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think knowledge is discovered. In other words, the ideas teachers teach and students learn do not correspond to
"reality," they are just human constructs. The student's language and culture shape this awareness of reality.
Postmodernism matting with transformation
A new vision influenced by a postmodernist approach will consider learning and instruction as part of a
complete process. There is surprisingly a paucity of literature in higher education on postmodernism, because
the postmodern debate has been in the forefront for many education scholars primarily in curriculum studies,
school administration, and educational theory. This is worth mentioning because higher education is the source
of teacher and leader preparation.
Since postmodernism is a set of strategic practices that remove limits or norms placed upon people in
society (Kritsonis 2008), the time is now for educators to be recognizant of rapid changes occurring in the
school system. It brings to the fore the idea that no one method or teaching/ administrative style appeals to all
students or staff. Every child is unique and thus has unique learning styles. Individual education plans (IEP) will
in due course be implemented for each child in the school system. Postmodernism challenges, according to
English (2003) the main ideas of how people, in general, function within their world. It values universal models
for organizations and is not based upon science or empirical facts and data. Persons living and working within
this capacity must be able to multi-task and be inclined to continual learning. With postmodernism, schools do
not need to be based upon business frameworks. Numerous school districts accept that schools should be run
like successful businesses.
Schools need to be seen as they really are - thriving centers of changing demographics, diverse cultural
and social needs, and a multitude of technological advances (English 2003). Students learn best by being getting
authentic knowledge in a format that allows them to critically manipulate it. Postmodernism achievement in
secondary education involves metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology. Diverse personal philosophical beliefs
are always brought into the school system. Epistemology as the nature of knowledge processes how students
and staff arrive at gaining a complete understanding of that knowledge while axiology examines the values
imparted by educators and defines what constitutes proper conduct. Administrators must help teachers to see the
importance of value type instruction (Chapman, 1998).
In conclusion, postmodernism is a broad cultural occurrence, with such features as the challenging of
convention, critical pedagogy, the mixing of styles, tolerance of ambiguity, emphasis on diversity,
implementation of innovation and change, and demands on the status quo construct of realism. The hub of the
classroom in postmodern education becomes the student's construction of knowledge. They move away from a
teacher-centered classroom to a more student-centered environment. As an alternative to identifying the set of
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skills and knowledge in the child's mind, attention shifts to fortify learning environments favorable to children
constructing content and instruction in group settings (Fogarty, 1999). Postmodernism believes a student-
centered classroom has minimal structure. It typically involves opportunities for social interaction, independent
investigations and study, and the expression of creativity, as well as stipulations and adjustments for different
learning styles. There, students generate knowledge, and are no longer told what to learn and how to learn it.
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The realms of meaning:
A philosophy for selecting curriculum for general education by William A. Kritsonis
The perspective of a philosophy in education must be concerned with how truth is really taught, the
curriculum, the role of the teacher, student, and the schools attitude toward change. The six realms of meaning
span the range of possible meanings and comprise the basic competencies that general education should expand
in every person. A usefully complete person should be skilled in the use of speech, symbol, and gesture
(symbolics), factually well informed (empirics), capable of creating and appreciating objects of esthetic
significance (esthetics), endowed with a rich and disciplined life in relation to self and others (synnoetics), able
to make wise decisions and to judge between right and wrong (ethics), and be passionate about an integral
outlook (synoptics). These are aims of education for development of the complete individual (Kritsonis, 2007).
The purpose of this paper is to discuss six philosophical strategies for implementing the realms of
meaning as a process for selecting curriculum for the development of the complete person. The article will
examine the six realms of meaning from a pragmatic leadership point of view and indicate how its lessons can
help us to be better educational practioners by developing an understanding of the realms, balancing state and
student needs, integrating community ideals, aligning the curriculum, teacher teamwork, and entrancing
The symbolics realm consists of three sub-realms: ordinary language, mathematics, and non-discursive
symbolic type (Kritsonis, 2007). Language the foundation of education can be found in the symbolics realm.
Language is most critical to effective communication which is fundamental to every aspect of any curriculum.
Symbolics allows individuals to be to commune based on the structure of meaning derived from vocal sounds
that are assimilated in an intelligible manner. Schools normalize speech into wide-ranging patterns, which are
understood and become socially acceptable to the world. Mathematics needs to be built on basic information
and gradually thrive toward what is to be mastered. Understanding non discursive forms is much like normal
language, which allows knowledge to be conveyed and received to facilitate outcomes desired. Given the
nationwide difficulties with mathematics attainment the metaphysics of transformational leadership in this area
could help with student outcomes.
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Empirics are the second realm of meaning, it deals with facts. This realm includes the sciences of the
physical world, of living things, and of man (Kritsonis 2007, p. 12). Empirics describe factual descriptions,
generalizations, and theoretical formulations and explanations (Kritsonis 2007, p. 12). The theoretical
formulations and explanations are based upon observation and experimentation in the world of matter, life,
mind and society (Kritsonis 2007). Empirical meanings require everyday language and mathematics for their
expression. To know a skill is to be able to put together valid general description of matters of fact. A clear,
simple process is needed to communicate rationales, vision and goals even at the curriculum leadership level
In the esthetic realm the object of knowledge is the singular form (Kritsonis, 2007). You can in all your
endeavors demonstrate the beauty and usefulness of esthetics in smart thinking, proper decorum, vocabulary
development and positive constructive disposition. By implementing these thoughts you are engaging in
esthetics of purpose and values. Whether in your home, church, community, school or office enrolling others in
a vision that inspires them to be supportive involves creating a sense of admiration and respect. Establishing a
learning environment of unity, stability, cultural continuity and contentment culminates the esthetic realm.
According to Kritsonis (2007), the fourth realm synnoetics, surround personal knowledge. Synnoetics
signifies relational insight or direct awareness (Kritsonis, 2007). In one’s professional life a lucid
understanding of all circumstances is necessary in order to make educated decisions. Synnoetics therefore guide
engagement and procedure, practice and execution to produce change. This is almost like symbolics in some
way - you engage people to envision themselves in success. Teachers are obliged to make learning relevant so
that the students are engaged but leadership can see to it that the structure of the curriculum is designed to
produce that engagement.
Ethics, the fifth realm, can be the foundation of our conduct and free conscience. Consistent ethical
practice is an intricate endeavor and there is no clear-cut path to ethical mastery. Ethics should guide a
professional to behave in a manner consistent with integrity. By far the most significant sources of such
influence are the laws and customs of society (Kritsonis, 2007). You must be informed enough to judge
between right and wrong and consider the moral soundness of your decision. The ethical domain is not defined
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by what conduct is about, but by the fact of its being deliberate and subject to the judgment of right and wrong
(Kritsonis, 2007, p. 453). The sincerity of intentions must at heart in the delivery of the curriculum.
Synoptics is a term that comprises meanings having an integrative function, uniting meanings from all
the realms into a unified perspective (Kritsonis, 2007). The synoptic realm of meaning includes the areas of
history, religion, and philosophy. This sixth realm of meaning can reveal what man by his deliberate choices
has made of himself within the context of his given circumstances (Kritsonis, 2007). If synoptics as a
philosophic discipline is to provide a common basis for interpreting the several realms of meaning, then a single
language system must be applied to the entire range of meanings to be interpreted (Kritsonis, 2007). A synoptic
outlook enables you to be measured against the integration of all the realms of meanings each in a different way
for sufficient reflection that brings history and your life and lifelong learning into perspective.
Metaphysical epistemological axiological and ontological perspective of realms of meaning
In terms of Metaphysics as Synnoetics and Synoptics, English (2003) opined that the talk of innovation
and change thoroughly shapes his depiction of the conceptual behavior in education administration.
Metaphysically then, Kritsonis’s realms of synnoetics and synoptics is greatly relevant. Leaders with a
disciplined and holistic outlook can influence these attributes. With Epistemology as Ethics and Empirics,
Epistemology, or validity of knowledge, beliefs and limits, encompasses meaning related to ethics and empirics.
Knowledge tested and tried that represents truth as it relates to the education of students must not be slanted.
Truth is truth and must be presented in all honesty. Leaders must be well-versed on culture and teaching and
learning in order to provide effective school leadership. From a pint of view of Axiology as Symbolics and
Esthetics, Transformational leaders do whatever it takes to bring change. Symbolics and esthetics realms are of
high value to this. Axiology is practiced at its best when a leader praises his team for making progress towards
a goal further instilling the value of that goals importance. Symbolics and esthetics are often used as
measurement of value and quality.
In conclusion, symbolics through ordinary language empowers to communicate effectively. The second
realms, empirics, provide factual descriptions and give soundness to decision making. The third realm,
esthetics, contains the various arts, such as music, the visual arts, and the arts of movement, which can also
promote the beauty in health. The fourth realm, synnoetics, embraces personal knowledge. The fifth realm,
ethics, gives life moral meaning that expresses obligation and awareness of who you are, what you are, why you
are and how these shape your destiny. The sixth realm, synoptics, refers to meanings that are comprehensively
integrative. a meaningful and considerable way (Watkins, 2008).
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Challenging times - Objectivism revisited:
“The concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life,
productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute” is a philosophy purported by
Ayn Rand (1964) to justify an objectivist ideology. Like in other spheres, meaning in leadership comes from
desire to discern, reflect, accept as true, reason, create or transform through words, symbols or action. In so
doing, when you originate and innovate for school effectiveness it will be void of doubt, prejudiced
complexities and can withstand sound analysis. This article will attempt to present a practical view on morality,
rationality, value, ethics and objectivism as put forward by Ayn Rand’s The Virtues of Selfishness (1964).
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this article is to analyze Ayn Rand’s concept of man as a heroic being and assess her
ideology on morality, rationality, value, and ethics for merits to educational leadership, innovation and change,
and intellectual usefulness.
Epistemological and Metaphysical way of thinking
Epistemologically, the concept of value is genetically dependent upon and derived from the precursor
concept of life. The epistemology that grounds Rand’s convictions that – “human beings are able to know
reality and as such his own happiness is his moral purpose” – It would appear that these two arguments are
intertwined with one another with awareness that they are dissimilar. It could be though that this is fitting
because epistemological considerations will have no eventual independence from what is correct
metaphysically. The course of knowing should end with informed professional judgment and as a result
objectivity, but, there has to be a given. The standard for objectivity is the pure forward push of a strong
conviction. Where there is a knowledge process there is beginning and ending.
Ethical behaviors are very important in school leadership. Rand (1964) surmised that, the metaphysical part of
ethics entails discovering explicitly whether moral values are eternal truths that exist in a spirit-like realm or
simply human conventions. Although Rand affirm the impossibility of rational moral judgments her
epistemology of ethics has some relevance to roles and responsibility.
Morals and heroism
Rand's (1964) abhors the use of force against others. Morality is a system of values to direct man's
choices and dealings that determine the rationale and the course of his life. Some academics and skeptic argue
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that Rand’s Virtue of Selfishness (1964) doesn’t answer many of life’s important questions, but she in fact does.
Example- a brief mention of critical theory is needed here because of a renewed interest in multicultural
education and an agenda that would transform schools and society. Critical theorist sees schools, curriculum,
teaching and learning as agencies and activities that transcend the exclusive academic and have significant
political economic social and educational meanings and implications.
Guttek (2003) opined that children of economically disadvantaged families and politically disorganized
groups are taught that they live in a society where economic social and political institutions are functioning
properly giving legitimacy to the dominant groups and preserving the hegemony over the subordinate groups.
Guttek (2003) further argues that schools are political agencies that empower some and not others and call for
an educational experience that encourage cultural diversity with a curriculum that uses the students unique
multicultural experiences to academically empower them. Virtue manifests itself in action. An action counts as
virtuous when one holds oneself in a stable equilibrium of the spirit, in order to choose the action knowingly
and for its own sake. This stable equilibrium of the soul is what constitutes character (Sachs, 2006).
Rand says, ‘That which is required for man’s survival man qua man is the standard of value for a human
being’ (Rand, 1964). It is this standard which determines what is good or bad for a human being. That which his
survival requires is set by his nature and is not open to his choice. It appears she is saying that choice is the
cause of the ultimate value of life. Rand explains how reason is our basic tool of continued existence. I entirely
agree with this point, the lack of reason is part of mans self ruin because he lacks confidence, knowledge,
esteem and in general objectivity.
According to Campbell and Fodis (2003), there is a deeper understanding of self-esteem as it pertains to
objectivism. Genuine self-esteem has two dimensions of self-evaluation: one is competence belief to deal with
life's essential challenges (self-efficacy) and an evaluation that one is worthy of happiness (self-
worth).Campbell and Fodis believe that the standards for adult self-esteem include self-reflective and
independent thought. This means that one must take responsibility for one's thoughts, beliefs, values, and
actions. One must pursue meaningful life goals and adhere to moral values that are based on reason.
In conclusion, Ayn Rand’s philosophy fortifies a position that asserts her strong beliefs. Realistically,
there cannot be full objectivism across all open social action systems like schools because diversity and student
centeredness is needed for balance and sustainability. The perspective of a philosophy in education must be
concerned with how truth is really taught, the curriculum, the role of the teacher, student, and the schools
attitude toward change.For educational leaders, Ayn Rand philosophy reaches across old and new paradigms to
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offer suggestions original and useful. It is important for teacher leaders to use cognitive processing and not let
others to convince them of falsehood because all curricula must represent truth.
Question # 2
Philosophy, Life and Education: The Atlas Shrugged viewpoint
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (1957) is a mixture of genres and literary metaphors and symbols that
combine a fluid story of romance, human action, values, purpose, productivity, political corruption, and the
integration of values, action and power of mind and body. Rand depict men as beings with free will who
have the ability to form their own purposes and aims. She opined that human action involves purposeful,
deliberate behavior. Atlas Shrugged assumes man's free will, freedom of choice, and ability to attain a
purpose. Human can initiate and make choices about what he will do. His free will choices will cause
certain end results. Actions reflect fundamental principles because men can think, choose, act, and cause.
Purpose of the article
The purpose of this essay is to discuss challenges and opportunities that humankind must face during
his/her existence relative to life, ethics, morals, values, and spirituality.
Education, self belief and resiliency
Decision making is a significant part of living. Decisiveness in decision making reflects
determination, self-confidence and intelligence. Dagny demonstrates a level of optimism and
independence that leads her to rely on her own judgment over others. She is immeasurably fervent about
her work demonstrated too by her achievement as a woman in a man's world showing too that attainment
in skills and leadership is not gender-specific. In terms of self efficacy she seems very much aware of her
own ability and generally knows the right thing to do. As an engineer, she respects the facts. She makes
business and technical decisions based on facts and commits to taking full responsibility for the outcome
of those decisions. In many spheres of life this could aptly be seen as informed professional judgment.
Individuals and organizations all have goals as postulated by Maslow (1943). Based on rationality
and reason, one should seek to be as educated as is reasonably possible to be in command of knowledge,
skills and abilities that allows you to be a functional citizen with an understanding of your rights and
responsibilities. In the very same way that Dagny faced and dealt with crooked government agencies, as
well as the methodical loss of her premium skilled workers and she works to overcome each obstacle,
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similarly, Individuals and organizations must remain resolute to see to the achievement of there goals.
Dagny was always unwavering and although it is arguable that independence of judgment may not always
be prudent - it has its merit. Basically, her epistemology is grounded in a resiliency framework, such that
leaves the strikers and rejoins the real world because she feels she can single-handedly save her railroad.
Like Rand's Atlas Shrugged, life is also about the power of the mind - the creative mind. a creative
mind can get you out of say poverty, for example if you refuse to accept that that is your fate. Principals
can use this concept as motivation for their students. Patton (2007) in her analysis of Atlas Shrugged
postulated that Great Minds Think Differently. Apply this thought to school leadership and you will see a
principal who develops and sustains school-wide reform on creating thinkers (Patton 2007) and lead the
critical thinking movement so desperately needed on many campuses.
Who is John Galt? - Fixity of purpose in school achievement
The dollar sign becomes the symbol of a strike of the mind led by John Galt. By each striker symbolically
associating himself with the sign of the dollar, the strikers intuitively illustrate their belief that there is no shame
weighted with the possession of money but just compensation for productivity and creativity. The bracelet
Rearden created using his new metallurgical discovery was symbolic of Rearden’s life work and super
accomplishments. The bracelet is beautiful, but unappreciated by his wife. Similarly, the development of the new
metal Rearden has created is seen as a threat to those who do not care for or appreciate ingenuity, creativity, and
invention. Despite the “coldness” that Rearden faced with his new discovery, the metal he invented is an
awesome representation of the priceless esthetic feeling that can be found from one’s individual life work and
Rand’s mystery mastermind John Galt is a brilliant character that blends imagination and
intelligence. From ground-breaking inventor to grease-stained laborer to an ordinary ‘nobody’ in a local
café to masterminding the strategic one at a time mind-strike and resignation of the best industrial minds in
the country in order to crumple a seemingly corrupt government regime, and then only to have them all
working for him later, Galt has demonstrated not just technical prowess, but an application of intellect and
cleverness on a grand scale. Motors were also symbolic throughout the novel Atlas Shrugged.
A caring but firm principal who keeps the focus on standards, and who is proactive, and confront
rather than avoid can be successful (Mahoney (1990 as quoted by Patton 2007). A successful leader can
“aim’ at something no else can see and hits it. Leaders of educational change are risk takers. Like
Rearden, change must be initiated by leaders who are willing to take risk for the future benefit of their
institution. Social justice and responsibility promote equity and leadership works because it is based on
how people should be respected, treated, motivated and led.
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Philosophy analysis matters such as existence, rationality, knowledge, reality, beauty, values, morals,
logic, reason, validity, mind, beliefs, and language. If you manage the quality of your experience, reflect, think
without bias and adjust your circumstances you are in fact practicing philosophy. Knowledge must govern how
we think and act. We must use knowledge to assist others and for critical thinking. As the psychology of
knowledge develops issues of epistemology grow more numerous, and their solutions more varied. Metaphysics
is concerned with the rational principles that account for all that exist and the common character of events. As
long as you are alive events will happen. Metaphysics investigates principles of reality and attempts to find
unity across the domains of experience and thought.
The philosophical study of goodness and its significance is axiology. Fact symbolizes objectivity and
value suggests subjectivity so it should follow that the relationship of value to fact is of fundamental importance
in developing any theory of the objectivity of value and of value judgments which is important to decision
making in life. Values are particularly needed in the contemporary age where vicious phenomena are covering
the world. General poor conduct, the breakdown of the family, injustices, corruption and oppression, destruction
of school purpose and neglect of personal human dignity gets among the mix. If you embrace sound
philosophy, reason and desire will help you seek the values of trueness, goodness and beauty, and through these
a society of trueness, an artistic society, and an ethical society will be actualized. Axiology, the science of
human values, enables us to identify the internal valuing systems that influence our perceptions, decisions and
actions - to clearly understand "why" we do what we do!
In conclusion, there are compelling lessons that can be learnt from the actions of some characters
in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (1957). These lessons are useful and relevant in improving contemporary
educational leaders ' adeptness, and for others simply give purpose and focus to goals they seek. The
mind is the single most important 'tool', gateway and key to dreams, progress, achievement and
sustainability. Prudent choices have to be made with the free will with which man is endowed. The world
is depending on the minds of those individuals who are charged with preparing successive generations of