Responding to violence in post-apartheid schools : on school leadership as mutual engagement

Davids, Nuraan, 1970- ; Waghid, Yusef (2016)

CITATION: Davids, N. & Waghid, Y. 2016. Responding to violence in post-apartheid schools : on school leadership as mutual engagement. Education as Change, 20(1):28–42, doi:10.17159/1947-9417/2016/557.

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Schools in post-apartheid South Africa appear to be under siege by violence. In turn, school leaders find themselves in the unenviable position of not only having to deal with inadequate educator professionalism and learner underachievement – particularly in previously disadvantaged schools – but are under pressure to find ways to counteract the violence, and to restore schools as safe sites. Among the biggest challenges facing school leaders is that they have not necessarily acquired sufficient training to deal with violent encounters, and often have responded in equally violent and violating ways, which, to some extent, has enhanced the expulsion and alienation of learners. In drawing on our own project work at five high schools in the Western Cape, we explore the challenges school leaders experience in responding to school violence. In questioning the often equally violent responses of school leaders, we contend that they ought to adopt practices of becoming. That is, school leaders should engage in intimate encounters with the other; not based on a desire to change the other, but rather for the purpose of mutually engaging with the other in an effort to inhabit practices of coming into presence that are humane and just.

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