ERIC Number: EJ942993
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 4
The Question in Educational Leadership: For Whom and for What Are We Responsible?
Scholar-Practitioner Quarterly, v4 n4 p328-330 Win 2010
Jacques Derrida wrote about democratic leadership in educational institutions throughout his later work, but in this article the author notes the importance of Derrida's essays published as "Eyes of the University" (2004). Derrida begins by returning to questions raised by Immanuel Kant two centuries earlier with regard to the founding of the modern public university, questions having to do with the responsibility of the faculty to assume leadership within the university. Faculty are, for Derrida as for Kant, the eyes of the university, engaged in "thinking" and teaching the university into existence, and they assume primary responsible for its leadership. Public schools can begin to be reconstructed democratically by returning to discourses and practices of faculty leaderships. Among other things, this means moving from a notion of the principal as administrator to a notion of the principal as head teacher or teacher leader. This may seem insignificant, but it would signify a fundamental shift in thinking, and in the organization of schools, that is potentially quite radical. Derrida raises a number of questions that confront educational leaders. "What do we represent? Whom do we represent? Are we responsible? For what and to whom?" These are not questions that educational leaders can hope to answer by referring to a management textbook or an administrator's manual, yet they strike to the very heart of what it means to be a democratic leader. Sometimes it is easy to forget these questions, which must foreground democratic educational leaders. They call for a response, Derrida would say, to assume responsibility for a promise--in this case the promise of what a democratic education could be. Democratic educational leadership in this sense is a response to a call to keep alive a promise, one that may be extinguished if the current reform agendas in public education go unchallenged. This means that effective democratic educational leadership at this point in time is working against the grain more often than not, and involves developing a reputation as a troublemaker. To remain effective as a democratic leader consequently requires learning how to negotiate the boundaries of compliance and resistance, and how to cross the borders that separate the school and the community in building alliances and coalitions of support.
Descriptors: Democracy, Educational Change, School Personnel, Teacher Leadership, Instructional Leadership, Public Education, Administrators, Administrator Role, Teacher Responsibility, Teacher Role, Educational Philosophy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A