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Understanding educational leadership anew : adult educators’ stories in conversation Ashworth, Joanna E.

Abstract

This research aims to disrupt and expand "given" understandings of educational leadership by exploring particular leadership instances of the everyday practice of adult education. Seven adult educators, including the author, offer narrative accounts of planning, designing, teaching, managing, and creating programs for adult learners with a particular interest in the little examined dimension of practice - educational leadership. The author works with the conceptual resources of Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, primarily through the theoretical, evocative, and scholarly work of David Jardine. Phenomenology and the corner of this philosophical field referred to as interpretive inquiry, seeks not to explain why or even how we may practice leadership within our educational practices, but rather to understand the phenomenon and its living manifestations through the particular. Narrative texts are interpreted hermeneutically through a constructed conversation that highlights both the common and uncommon understandings of what it means to be an educational leader. Through writing and reading each of these stories, a living and breathing notion of educational leadership is created. In dialogue with others, the author becomes more literate about the meaning of her own experience. Such a dialogue invites the possibility of recognizing the significance of teaching as leading, and educational leadership as leading conversations about what matters in adult education, and in doing so one gains a greater sense of one's own leadership capacity. Implications for the development of educational leaders are considered.

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