Daniels Article Presentation


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Sackney & Mitchell (2002). Postmodern expressions of educational leadership.

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  • Daniels Article Presentation

    1. 1. Postmodern Expressions of Educational Leadership by Larry Sackney and Coral Mitchell
    2. 2. Purpose and Context • The article seeks to explore alternatives to modernist structures of educational institutions with a focus on the application of postmodern theory to leadership.
    3. 3. Methodology • The paper is philosophical in nature. • It gives a summary of the inadequacies of modernist thought regarding organizations and reasons why postmodern thought should be embraced. Several important philosophers and thinkers are discussed. • The article finishes with a discussion of the application of postmodern tenets to an educational setting.
    4. 4. Background • The Modernist movement (19th and 20th centuries) focused on rationality and the idea that the world can be explained in terms of universal metanarratives. (Great stories and discourses) • Organizations created in this era follow modernist patterns of rational structure.
    5. 5. Modernist Patterns • Organizations have a hierarchical structure. • Leaders make rational decisions to move organizations forward based on evidence. • Any rational person would come to the same conclusions based on the same evidence.
    6. 6. Application of Modernism to Education • Structuralism and positivism dominate educational texts. • Educational institutions focus on organization, accountability, structure, systemization and control.
    7. 7. Problems with Modern Thought in Educational Settings • there is an erosion of meaning as content is compromised to fit the positivist and structuralist outlook of educational systems. • Life isn’t made meaningful through a search for order and predictability.
    8. 8. • The modern perspective was partially the result of the industrial age, which focussed on efficiency, order and predictability; we are now in a post-industrial age where information and communication dominate. Therefore, new methods of understanding relationships between individuals and groups are needed.
    9. 9. Postmodernism • “Rejection of objective truth and of foundational, transcendent principles.” (887) • Generalizations are dependent on the language used to describe them. • Generalizations exclude other compelling interpretations of meaning.
    10. 10. • Postmodern Reality: Every event is centred in a certain place and is the result of many other events and circumstances. Thus, there are no universals. • Unity and wholeness come from recognizing and embracing difference.
    11. 11. Postmodernism in Organizational Theory • Rejection of industrial-based, hierarchical systems of the organization of power. • Organizations must be viewed relationally as opposed to hierarchically. People in organizations are seen as actors in a web of social interactions and discourses. Meaning comes from context and activity.
    12. 12. Postmodern Definition of Organization • Organizations are a “set of context-specific cultural narratives that are constituted in and by reflective and reflexive analyses and conversations, both explicit and implicit, of those working in an organization.” (895)
    13. 13. Practicalities of the Approach • There needs to be a focus on the community instead of the individual. Communities are the places where common values are created to achieve common goals. • Power is relational and is created within the discourses of the community. Power cannot be taken or given as it is a relational concept. Power is tied to knowledge.
    14. 14. • CAVEAT: Postmodernist organizational theories are not always positive. Because power is centred in discourse and the dissemination of knowledge, it can serve to give voice to or to silence other voices such as those of women and minority ethnicities.
    15. 15. Postmodernism and Leadership Theory • Leadership is dispersed throughout an organization. • There is a communication aspect to decision making that incorporates collaboration, empowerment, participation, critical reflection, dialogue and discourse.
    16. 16. • In the end, leadership is concerned with the analysis of organizational relationships. Thus, all texts within the organization must be understood within their context and must be understood to have a different impact on individuals based on the context in which the text is received.
    17. 17. Application to Education • There is more reflection in educational discourse. • Schools consist of a “community of leaders” • Teachers become key actors in establishing the culture of the school. It is not top- down.
    18. 18. • Trust amongst the actors in an educational setting becomes paramount. People need to trust each other to build a positive community discourse. • People in a school setting need to engage in critical reflection and dialogue to build meaning in the community. This reflection needs to occur in a psychologically safe setting to encourage the discussion of the undiscussables. (staff sensitivities, student conflict.)
    19. 19. • Decision making moves from the prinicipal’s office to those affected by the decision. Decentralization of power is necessary. • Conflict that arises suggests the need to deconstruct the familiar to create something more suitable to the current context. • There is a continual process of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction. • There must be a focus on building the interpersonal capacity of the school.
    20. 20. Most Interesting Points There’s lots in here, but here are the things I found the most interesting.
    21. 21. Interesting Point #1 • The application of post-modern thought to education would result in the system embracing more perspectives, as there would be no central, universals standards. All relationships would be based on context and discourse in the organizational system.
    22. 22. Interesting Point #2 • Euro-centred, male dominated ways of thinking have dominated school systems largely because the people in power (European males) in modernist, hierarchical systems make decisions that will result in continued dominance. Thus, schools becomes socialization tools to maintain the status quo.
    23. 23. Interesting Point #3 • Consistency in discipline in school settings makes no sense from a postmodern perspective. All decisions must be made in context and in response to situational discourse and relational power.
    24. 24. Strengths of the Article • The article provides a very comprehensive explanation of modernism and postmodernism. Most of the major thinkers/philosophers in these areas are addressed. • There is some practical discussion of the application of postmodernist thought to actual school settings.
    25. 25. Weaknesses of the Article • The sections explaining postmodernism and modernism make up the bulk of the article. As I am already familiar with most of this theory, I would have appreciated more discussion of actual application. Thus, there needed to be more balance in the article. • While there are some discussion of practical applications, how to implement these theories in real settings should have been discussed in more detail.
    26. 26. • Real-life examples and anecdotes would have been an interesting addition to the discussion in the article.
    27. 27. Implications • Structural change must happen in schools in order to address the diversity of needs of students. • Power must be devolved in schools in order to recognize and take advantage of the relational properties of power in the postmodern era.
    28. 28. • Trust and feelings of psychological safety must be encouraged in schools in order to promote discussion and reflection. • Communication and discourse must be seen as the most important aspects of the community. (even over course content)
    29. 29. Relationship to other readings • This articles builds on the work of other post-modern thinkers. It takes much of this philosophy and applies it to a school setting.