Understanding Educational Leadership: People, Power and Culture

By Hugh Busher | Go to book overview

10 Leading purposeful change in
schools:
People, power and culture

Developing school communities to promote student
engagement

To make sense of change processes, let alone to enact them successfully, teachers need an understanding of modernist systems perspectives as well as of critical perspectives that explain how people negotiate with each other to implement particular agenda or developments and why some people are marginalized in these discussions. Lukes (1986) notes that understanding how power flows in organizations makes it possible for people to be manipulative of others – projecting power through others rather than using it with them – but it also allows people altruistically to alter systems and process to minimize the marginalization of some groups of people, such as school students from ethnic minority groups in some schools. However, bringing about change successfully also requires participants to understand the cultures of communities in which they are trying to enact change, so they appreciate how the norms and beliefs of those communities can support or hinder change. So change involves leaders and their colleagues creating, organizing, managing, monitoring and resolving the value conflicts inherent in change processes, where values are defined as concepts of the desirable (Hodgkinson 1999) that are used to construct utopian visions (Halpin 2003) to guide practice. It is this political cultural and axiological debate that lies at the heart of developing inclusive schooling.

In the first section of this chapter modernist or systems perspectives on school improvement are interlaced with critical perspectives to make visible the dynamics of managing changes. Change comes about because people espouse and pursue particular agenda and access power in various ways to try to implement them either within existing social (organizational) structures or by changing these or the rules through which these are constructed (Giddens 1984). These agenda are value laden and raise questions about what values should be implemented through schooling and whose interests the change seekers are trying to serve.

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