UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Educational leadership for a common world Pamer, Monica E.


This study of educational leadership attempts to take the unexpected into account, acknowledging that while leadership in public education often appears to be about control, or causing certain things to happen, it is dependent on human interactions that have unpredictable yet significant effects on others. This consideration gives rise to a different conception of educational leadership, one that is not dependent on prescribed steps and factors, but arises from both fleeting and sustained interactions and the sense that others make of them. Frequently the conventional literature on educational leadership offers a series of steps, diagrams or frameworks to simplify and communicate what educational leadership is, and these approaches have their uses. However, they tend to wring the life out of the concept while trying to nail it down. Stories about leadership, on the other hand, communicate its complexity and sheer human unpredictability in a more multidimensional way. When we are with others, what we do and say, “‘produces’ stories with or without intention, as naturally as fabrication produces tangible things” (Arendt, 1958, p. 184). Stories arise, but conceptual tools are a way of making sense of them. The concepts used in the analysis and discussion are: the tension between schooling and education; Hannah Arendt’s (1958) notions of the public, private and social; and Arendt’s concepts of labour, work and action. These concepts are applied to leadership in public education to describe a new way of conceptualizing educational leadership. This is leadership that acknowledges and utilizes the interdependence of the public and private as a way of educating students to appreciate their individuality while being prepared to be with others in a public setting as part of a democratic society. Schooling does not often foster this kind of education, and can actually limit interactions that support it as described above. Leaders who aspire to be educational in their practice need to recognize that school is where students are contained, but education is more about fostering students’ opportunities to develop and expand their sense of who they are by interacting with others in open, receptive and reflective ways.

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