Mindfulness and leadership come together as a model for arriving at solutions in the field of education. Two approaches, Eastern and Western, present perspectives on mindfulness that are distinct, however both aim towards the same goal of enhancing awareness. Originating in the East, mindfulness is at the core of Buddhist philosophy and includes enhanced attention and an attentiveness to the present. Conversely, the Western approach to mindfulness gained traction in the 1970s in the field of cognitive and social psychology. Within the field of education in the United States, mindfulness has contributed, primarily in the classroom, as an activity to foster better classroom management and improved focus on learning. Mindfulness has also been applied to mindful learning, aimed at revealing enhanced approaches to learning. Along a similar vein, applications of mindfulness in the leadership field, encourage the approach of focused attention to individual leadership development, problem-solving, and self-reflection. Resonant leadership and authentic leadership are two of the primary leadership models that include the strategy of mindfulness. Moving beyond the individual perceptions of mindfulness in leadership development, a more collaborative approach of mindfulness has emerged, where social change emerges from interdependence and mutuality amongst a number of individuals. Whether at the individual or collective level, mindfulness is impacted by cultural influences. Educational leaders are tasked with leading ethnically diverse learning communities by necessity, as demographics change and ethnic minority populations become minority majority populations. Thus, awareness of one’s cultural mindset, both limitations and strengths, can contribute to one’s leadership abilities. Mindfulness, when directed inward, can paradoxically enhance one’s ability to better understand others and to breakthrough stereotypes. This perspective could foreseeably foster cultural competence and greater levels of cultural integration, but as a function of greater self-awareness. Thus, mindfulness and leadership, as a creative combination of self and other, come together as a promising model of leadership for educators. Whether integrated as a necessary element of existing leadership theories, or identified as an important process of reflection in leadership development, mindfulness opens a pathway to greater insight and awareness. Aspects of mindfulness can therefore contribute to leadership, in particular, at the intersection of these elements relative to culture.
Social justice (SJ) is not a “newly discussed” issue. It has made a mark on the history of humanity. It was one of the most frequently discussed concerns of earlier religious and philosophical traditions for both their own context and other contexts around the world. Almost all disciplines, including philosophy, politics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and education, have been in search of a just world for people and have tried to find an answer to the question of what a socially just society is. Social justice has been a debated issue on the agendas of educational researchers, too. Similar to other fields, research on social justice in education has been attempting to describe and analyze its meaning and nature in educational settings. Educational researchers have made significant efforts to provide a definition of social justice in schools and to open the black box of social justice delivered to schools. In education, social justice, in short, may be seen as a fact directly related to providing equal opportunities for everyone in schools regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, social class, wealth, gender, family structure, sexual orientation, disability, and so on. This urges school leaders to be aware of their central roles and responsibilities in terms of justice issues in their schools, and this makes it very clear that a just school depends on leaders believing in social justice. In other words, school leaders and their efforts to create a just school have explicit effects on justice issues in schools.
Richard Lynch, Poonpilas Asavisanu, Kanog-on Rungrojngarmcharoen, and Yan Ye
Educational management is one of a trilogy of overlapping concepts, along with educational administration and educational leadership. These three concepts are related but nonetheless possess definitional differences depending on where the terms are applied. The complexity of educational management as a concept is evidenced by its inclusion of related but subsidiary though important notions such as ethics, culture, and diversity within differing educational systems. The overall purpose of educational management is to effectively and efficiently create and maintain environments within educational institutions that promote, support, and sustain effective teaching and learning, but how those key objectives are set and the means by which they are attained may differ significantly depending upon education system or level and across educational cultures. In striving to accomplish these goals, educational managers, through thoughtful practical application of management principles, enlist and organize a society’s available resources to attain the educational goals that have been set by that society’s political leaders. As such, the various educational goals set by differing societies to which educational managers at all levels of the educational system must respond are by definition changeable along with changing socioeconomic conditions within a society and the disruption occasioned by the rapid development of digital technologies used as management tools. Educational management, while guiding planned change, must be responsive to unplanned, disruptive change created by rapid changes in both social structures and cultures as well as advances in digital technologies. This is where the element of educational leadership that directs and guides the entire process of educational management and administration takes on particular importance. Leadership includes both manager and teacher professional ethics and is expressed within a variety of theories of ethical leadership in education that respond to cultural imperatives in differing societies. Educational management must be responsive to both global and local changes due to technological developments that directly impact teaching and learning through changes in curriculum in terms of pedagogical and assessment practices. It is in how educational management as a discipline evolves to effectively meet the needs of educational systems contingent upon the challenges derived from technological, social, cultural, and economic changes sweeping the globe in the first decades of the 21st century that will determine the effectiveness and efficacy of management practices going forward. Effectively and innovatively managing change is the primary challenge facing educational management locally, regionally, and globally in the decades ahead.
Anthony H. Normore and Antonia Issa Lahera
To commit to Brown v. Board of Education’s legacy of advancing social justice and democracy, it is necessary to look at practices (i.e., the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures) that promote the development and support of school leaders committed to social justice, equity, access, and diversity. Leadership preparation programs need to provide the knowledge base for aspiring school leaders to understand how they ought to respond to the changing political, moral, and social landscapes in which they live and work. Of equal importance is the curricular focus on interrelating social justice, democracy, equity, and diversity so that aspiring school leaders can identify practices that explicitly and implicitly deter social progress. Furthermore, these school leaders ought to be able to develop a knowledge base on how to respond to these injustices in their school leadership practices. As leadership development and preparation program personnel prepare new leaders, the discourse of social justice and marginalization is an important objective in the curriculum of preparation programs. Personnel in leadership programs have an opportunity to take part in discourse about how to shape the quality of leaders they produce for the good of society. To this end, researchers offer critical insights into the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures that promote the development and support of contemporary principals committed to social justice and democratic principles. Included in the research discussion are the tenets of social justice leadership, democracy, diversity and the digital divide, digital access, and digital equity.
While countries across the Asia-Pacific region have since the early 2000s been very forthright in acknowledging the international conventions and declarations that promote inclusive education, there still seems to be a substantial gap between policy and school expectations in most educational systems. Many of the less developed countries have adopted the terminology in the Education For All framework and applied this within their own education policies. Thus, country policies promote an “inclusive approach to education” that enable children with disabilities to attend a regular school. Some policies go further and state that this should be with appropriate differentiation and support. Unfortunately, this is where the strength of the shift in education seems to end for many of the Asia-Pacific countries. There appears to be an ongoing lack of understanding that inclusion means that not all students will achieve through the “same old” ways and that outcomes will need to be different. In other words, governments promote inclusion through policy, but at the same time continue to expect schools to help all students to achieve the same curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment as the way to equity. Countries across the Asia-Pacific region, like elsewhere, vary enormously in their cultural diversity and in their ability to respond to inclusion. Models of teacher education, likewise, will vary and must be focused on what is contextually viable and culturally acceptable within each individual country. Cultural differences, beliefs, values, and understandings associated with inclusion and disability vary enormously across the Asia-Pacific region and are often firmly embedded within historical contexts. These invariably have strong impact on acceptance and in decision-making regarding what constitutes appropriate teacher preparation for working in more inclusive schools. Regardless of context, effective teacher education requires skilled teacher educators who have received full training in regard to inclusion and who are also aware of the needs of classroom teachers when asked to operate an inclusive classroom, within different cultural contexts, and the potential additional strains of large class sizes, and often limited resources. A variety of different models have been applied throughout the Asia-Pacific region to prepare teachers for inclusion with inconsistent outcomes.