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Article

David Litz and Rida Blaik-Hourani

Transformational leadership is one of the most widely discussed and utilized notions that has risen to the forefront of educational administration. Transformational leadership was initially conceived of as a process whereby leaders strategically transform the system or organization to a higher level by increasing the achievement and motivation of their followers. Early theorists would also argue that transformational leadership and change are inexorably intertwined, which in turn underscored the importance of a leader’s ability to positively transform the attitudes, norms, institutions, behaviors, and actions that structure our daily lives. Later writers and researchers would gradually extend and develop the theory and argue that the goal of transformational leadership is to transform people as well as organizations. Early work on transformational leadership concentrated on politics, business, and the armed services, and the research emphasized the value of “followers” as a distinguishing factor present in the transformational leadership model. This distinction is likely what led scholars to apply its tenets to modern educational contexts, which are typically characterized by significant pressures to implement widespread reforms and change. In this regard, transformational leadership is often viewed as well suited to education as it empowers followers (i.e., instructors) and provides them with a sense of hope, optimism, and energy and defines the vision of productivity as they accomplish goals. Additionally, transformational leaders work toward influencing shared beliefs and values to create a comprehensive level of change and innovation and aim to nurture a school culture that is oriented toward a learning ethos, whereby such leaders seek to expand the capacities of each employee, enhance their ways of thinking, and promote individual ambition. In this way, learning and growth becomes a shared responsibility. Transformational leadership has garnered significant attention and popularity. However, when viewed from a globalized and cross-cultural perspective it raises significant questions regarding generalization. One key question in the literature surrounding transformational leadership is whether the concept can be applied across national and organizational cultures. Theoretical education debates often focus on transformational leadership’s reliability and viability within educational environments, especially regarding how such environments define and handle change, organizational learning, institutional effectiveness and improvement, and enhancing student outcomes.

Article

Research feedback is given in very different ways with different intended functions and effects. From a positivist or reconstructed positivist perspective, for instance, feedback is used primarily as a strategy for improving research validity, while from a critical perspective the intention is to induce deeper and sustained levels of participation, critique, and influence toward a purpose, ultimately, of social transformation. From a philosophical foundation this aim allies with the significance of not only understanding contemporary educational empirical reality under neoliberal forms of capitalism but also developing critical consciousness for the transcendence and transformation of this condition. From within a critical education perspective, research feedback therefore sets out to engage schools and their communities, including teachers and parents, as co-researchers and reflective agents capable of understanding and changing education and its social relations, not only being recipients of it as in Freire’s notion of a banking concept of education. Change is encouraged both within the framework of the investigation and with respect to broader social relations.

Article

Marta Caballeros, Jeannette Bran, and Gabriela Castro

Inclusive education, as stated in declarations and human development goals, features in the educational policies being implemented in Central American and Caribbean (CA-DR) countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic). The policies seek to give the entire population of each country permanent access to quality education services, and they have a particular focus on people with disabilities. However, there are considerable challenges to be overcome, caused by a combination of historical factors and the sociopolitical and economic context. Some of the countries still have significant levels of poverty and inequity, both of which hinder the development of inclusive education. At the same time, inclusive education is expected to help eradicate social exclusion and facilitate social mobility. This paradigm began as an effort to secure disabled people’s right to education, and countries have since been working to offer disabled people access to regular schools. Nevertheless, segregated education services or services with an integration aim still persist. Moreover, poverty causes many students to drop out of school, or never to enroll at all. Each country has vulnerable or marginalized groups in its population. The work being done, from an inclusive perspective, follows two main routes: reorienting education systems toward inclusivity; and offering these groups affirmative actions to ensure their regular attendance at mainstream schools that have quality programs for all. If CA-DR countries are to achieve inclusive education, they must fulfill two requirements. Firstly, they must develop intersectorial interventions that revert causes of exclusion—education policies in isolation are unable to do that. Secondly, they must take action to ensure that inclusive education is achieved in practice in the classroom. There are advances toward inclusion, but more work is needed to answer the question of how CA-DR countries can develop inclusive societies, based on social protection and quality education services for all, that give proper attention to diversity, practice equity, and promote social mobility. Bottom-up strategies are valuable in the effort to achieve inclusive education.

Article

Raja Maznah Raja Hussain

Coaching as a method of professional development is now practiced in higher education to supplement and replace the traditional methods of new faculty induction, workshops, and training programs. Coaching may be more appealing for Generation Y (millennial) academics as it allows for a more personalized professional development and takes into consideration individual needs for support in the early years of their career. Support offered through coaching allow young academics to set their own goals, focusing on what is important to them in regard to teaching, research, publication, and student supervision. Depending on what the goals are, a young academic may need to engage with several coaches who would facilitate and help to steer the achievement of those goals, whether immediate goals such as publication or long-term goals such as promotion. The coaching process requires trust and patience on the part of both the coach and the coachee to build a relationship that will drive transformation. Coaching is known to benefit both the coach and the coachee as the journey is a deep learning process. The coachee develops self-belief and confidence through finding solutions and alternative ways to move forward, and the coach develops skills and refines techniques. Formalized coaching programs in higher-education institutions require commitments from everyone at all levels. An institution planning to implement coaching needs to take into consideration the readiness of the institution to engage with and support the coaching plan. A coaching culture helps the institution to flourish as it fosters members who are motivated to help others to grow.

Article

Alpesh Maisuria and Dennis Beach

As described in Beach and Dovemark’s 2007 book, Education and the Commodity Problem, critical researchers have identified two fundamental roles for modern-day schools within capitalist states. These are the ideological and material roles and function, where schools produce ideologically compliant workers and consumers for a corporatist economy on the one hand, this is partly through a teaching and a curriculum, which is often hidden and informal; and, on the other form part of a corporate business plan for the accumulation of private capital in the welfare sector through mass outsourcing of welfare-State education provision and the wholesale commodification of education as a public service. This article presents a research method for investigating education in these circumstances. It is a method with a philosophical foundation not only for understanding contemporary educational empirical reality under neoliberal forms of capitalism, but also for developing critical consciousness for the transcendence and transformation of this condition toward a more just form of political economy and human existence. This research method draws from critical realism and its concept of explanatory critique as a way to forge a scientifically robust Marxist critical ethnography. In relation to this, the description of the method accompanies an overview of some of the basic principles and broadly accepted possibilities of and for ethnography and critical ethnography, followed by a presentation of what Marxist critical ethnography is and how Marxist critical ethnography functions as explanatory critique, respectively. This entails description of what explanatory critique is, and how it can be used to develop a philosophy of social science and an ontological base for ethnography. The aforementioned components together expand on a historical, theoretical, conceptual, and political development of ethnography as part of a Marxist approach to research and practice for social transformation.

Article

Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez

Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.