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Jsl Vol 8-N5

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The Journal of School Leadership is broadening the conversation about schools and leadership and is currently accepting manuscripts. We welcome manuscripts based on cutting-edge research from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological orientations. The editorial team is particularly interested in working with international authors, authors from traditionally marginalized populations, and in work that is relevant to practitioners around the world. Growing numbers of educators and professors look to the six bimonthly issues to: deal with problems directly related to contemporary school leadership practice teach courses on school leadership and policy use as a quality reference in writing articles about school leadership and improvement.

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The Postmodern Turn in Educational Administration: Apostrophic or Catastrophic Development?

ePub

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

FENWICK W. ENGLISH1

ABSTRACT: The impact of postmodernism on educational administration will be catastrophic, i.e., a radical overturning of established thought and practice. The field has been slow in recognizing the full impact of a turning away from the Cartesian mindset of modernistic science. The most significant challenges in educational administration posed by postmodernism are to the concept of a stable knowledge base upon which to determine best or reflective practices, the assumed legitimacy of departments of educational administration as sanctified places to prepare school leaders, and the decoupling of the concepts of leadership from management practice and organizational theory. The postmodern challenge is to move beyond Cartesian logic and modernist traditions to redefine practice.

The idea of a “turn” in linguistic analysis means that there are significant changes between a speaker and a receiver as a result of a message that links them together within a common understanding. A “turn” represents a new interpretation not previously a part of that understanding.

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Fighting the Fog: A Criticism of Postmodernism

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POINT/COUNTERPOINT

DONALD J. WILLOWER1

ABSTRACT: This article counters the supportive treatment of postmodernism by Fenwick English in this issue. Key concepts of postmodern-poststructural thought are presented and criticized. They are the rejection of the metaphysics of presence and metanarratives, conjoined with an emphasis on textualism and deconstruction. Such a view is seen as opaque and seriously flawed with little to offer either philosophy or educational administration. An alternative perspective based on a version of naturalistic-pragmatist philosophy is then briefly sketched with special attention to issues of epistemology and ethics. This perspective is shown to have genuine relevance to educational administration.

My treatment of postmodernism and poststructuralism will be divided into several parts. First, the main features of a postmodern/post-structural (hereafter, PM or PS with suffix added as needed) perspective are presented. This is done for the reader who might find it helpful. PMism/PSism also will be examined critically as these features are considered, as will Fenwick English’s article in this issue of Journal of School Leadership, an avowedly PM view applied to educational administration. Finally, I will briefly present an alternative position that is philosophically grounded and highly relevant to educational administration, in stark contrast with PMism/PSism.

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Musings on Willower’s “Fog”: A Response

ePub

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

FENWICK W. ENGLISH1

Professor Willower complains about the “fog” he has encountered in postmodernist literature and my two articles in Journal of School Leadership. A close read of his critique reveals that this miasma is simply the mildew on his Cartesian glasses.

Consider carefully his criticisms. He hangs the sobriquet of “leftist” on postmodernism with its French connection. But he also accuses it of being fascist because of Heidegger’s Nazi past. Willower trots out the diatribe that postmodernism is illogical and approaches “an imminent degree of irrationality,” but admits it uses logic and analysis. He proffers that postmodernism is essentially radical, but then stipulates that it is politically conservative.

The oppositional cymbal clashing punctuates his reposte. He declares that deconstruction is a “vaporous” concept which is “foggy,” but his entire critique is an example of deconstruction in which his purpose is to show postmodernism’s tensions and contradictions.

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Exploring the Use of Problem-Based Learning for Developing Collaborative Leadership Skills

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KATHLEEN J. MARTIN1

JANET H. CHRISPEELS1,*

MARIANNE D’EMIDIO-CASTON1

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the implementation of two Problem-Based Learning (PBL) seminars at a university administrative credential program for graduate students preparing to become administrators. PBL is an instructional strategy that focuses students on a relevant problem to solve within a collaborative group. It explores in what ways PBL contributes to their development as administrators, ability to work in groups, and to use reflection as a part of their practice. Students worked in small groups to complete a relevant job-related problem. They were expected to apply theory to a real situation, use problem-solving skills, witness the impact of those skills, and reflect on their actions and those of others. Throughout the two seminars, a variety of data were collected including journal notes, videotapes, and process papers. When analyzed, the data provided important insights about the use of PBL for students as an instructional strategy. Analysis of data revealed that students found the content and process relevant to their work as administrators, saw patterns in their own growth, and gained an understanding of the importance of identifying implicit theories. The faculty also learned important lessons from this action research about the use of PBL as a pedagogical strategy. First, students need time to develop and practice both problem-solving as well as group process skills. Second, faculty needed to take an active role in teaching group process and reflective skills. This is important learning given the dynamic context of schools where collaboration with others and group work are essential components of effective organizations.

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