ERIC Number: ED406723
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Oct
Redefining Leadership as Meaning in Context.
English, Fenwick W.
For a long time educational administration has been enamored with the idea that studies about leadership should lead to contextually free generalizations. Despite decades of empirical studies modeled after the social sciences' most rigorous disciplines, very little is known about leadership. Previous views of leadership attempted to generalize across specific contexts to arrive at rules by which the researcher could describe, predict, and control the phenomena under study. This paper takes the position that in the area of leadership, the attempt has been a failure. The leadership theory of Howard Gardner (1995) asserts that understanding of the function of leaders and their cognitive processes begins by understanding their mental images. Mental images are language-based and culturally encapsulated. The paper examines the importance of leadership by looking at acknowledged leaders and the biographies of those they admired or read about in school. By starting with leaders and moving backwards, it may be possible to discern what qualities of those other leaders inspired them. The paper challenges the radical dualism of the traditional mindset in educational administration, which believes the discipline will collapse if it is contextualized as simply a matter of language and culture. Educational theorists would then have to abandon claims to an illusory objectivity that never existed and examine leadership solely within cultural and linguistic borders. (Contains 44 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the University Council for Educational Administration (10th, Louisville, KY, October 25-27, 1996).