Leadership in education transformation as reshaping the organisational discourse

Berkhout, Sarie (2007)

CITATION: Berkhout, S. 2007. Leadership in education transformation as reshaping the organisational discourse. South African Journal of Education, 27(3):407-419.

The original publication is available at http://www.sajournalofeducation.co.za/


The restructuring of South African education poses continuous challenges for educational leaders to contribute towards constituting a just and equitable society. Competing discourses, however, create ongoing tensions that have to be negotiated and meaningfully mediated. The widely diverse, often conflicting, local discourses shaped by particular groups’ histories and experiences, interacting with national/ provincial imperatives and the powerful neo-liberalist discourse, puts exceptional demands on educational leadership. These discourses shape not only the enactment of education leadership and management in school settings, but also its conceptualisation as a discipline and the concomitant enactment in schools and other education settings. In the context of the debate of what constitutes education leadership and/or management, I focus on the conceptualisation of the organisational or structural context of leadership. Leadership is explored as engaging within and with schools as a construct of language, i.e. as a discursive construction where meanings are emergent, deferred, and dispersed. This has the ontological implication that schools as organisations do not have autonomous, stable, or structured status outside that of the interactive narratives and texts that constitute it. Also transformative educational leadership as a practice of power would — in the interests of social justice — have to engage with competing discourses and what they privilege.

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