Defining Educational Leadership in Canada's Yukon Territory: "Hmmm, That's a Good Question ..."

By Blakesley, Simon | Canadian Journal of Education, July 2011 | Go to article overview

Defining Educational Leadership in Canada's Yukon Territory: "Hmmm, That's a Good Question ..."


Blakesley, Simon, Canadian Journal of Education


Abstract

Studies examining educational leadership in northern Canada appear rare. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to present findings from a 2010 study of educational leadership in Canada's Yukon Territory. The study adopts a critical ethnographic approach to unpack educational leadership as construed and enacted by two male and two female non-Indigenous principals living and working in Indigenous Yukon contexts. Extensive interviews, observations, and document reviews in four Yukon schools were conducted to shed light upon the research questions. This research reveals how school principals, individuals often referred to as "educational leaders," define educational leadership despite the inability on the part of universities, the extant body of literature, or educational systems to articulate what this term even means (Allix & Gronn, 2005). The study identifies that these Yukon principals define educational leadership in managerial and administrative ways, referring to themselves as principals who have a "function" and a "job" as they juggle the continuous ambiguity they face while wearing the multiple "hats" of teacher, principal, and community leader.

Resume

Cet article presente une etude realisee en 2010 sur le leadership en education dans le territoire du Yukon au Canada. Un objectif de cette recherche a ete d'entreprendre une etude critique et ethnographique visant a examiner le leadership en education tel qu'il est interprete et edicte par deux hommes et deux femmes non-autochtones, directeurs et directrices d'ecole, qui vivent et travaillent parmi des populations autochtones au Yukon. Des entretiens approfondis, des observations, ainsi que l'etude de documents ont ete entrepris. Un autre objectif de cette etude a ete de determiner comment les directeurs d'ecole, souvent appeles <>, definissaient le leadership en education, malgre l'incapacite de la part des universites, du corps litteraire actuel, ou des systemes educatifs, d'en donner une definition. (Allix et Gronn 2005). L'etude montre que les directeurs definissent le leadership en education d'un point de vue managerial et administratif, faisant reference a eux-memes en tant que directeurs qui ont une <> et un <> du fait qu'ils jonglent en permanence avec l'ambiguite existante entre les differents <> qu'ils portent : enseignant, directeur, chef de la communaute. L'etude souligne la necessite de redefinir ce qu'est et ce que doit faire un directeur en tant qu'acteur educatif dans le contexte du Yukon.

Introduction

This article reports on a 2010 study of educational leadership in Canada's Yukon Territory. An aim of this research was to undertake a critical ethnographic study which examined educational leadership as construed and enacted by two male and two female non-Indigenous principals living and working in Indigenous Yukon contexts. A goal of this study was to identify how school principals, individuals often referred to as "educational leaders," define educational leadership despite the inability on the part of universities, the extant body of literature, or educational systems to articulate what this term even means (Allix & Gronn, 2005). I embarked on this study based, in large part, on my experiences as a non-Indigenous school principal working in Indigenous Yukon contexts. When I began as a new principal, I observed that studies of principals in similar contexts to my own appeared absent. This is reinforced by Goddard and Foster (2002):

   there have been few examinations of school leadership that have
   been grounded in Canada's northern region. This lack of research
   focusing on northern education generally, and the relationship
   between educational leadership and the local culture in particular,
   identifies a serious gap in the literature. (pp. 5-6)

I was perplexed by the lack of contextualized and culturally sensitive approaches to educational leadership, particularly in the Canadian North. …

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