Passing on the reins of responsibility? Comparing school principals' values and practices in a ‘wicked' reality.

Mike Bottery and Nigel Wright, University of Hull, England





This paper describes and discusses the responses to questionnaires about the endorsement of different educational values  from principals in  nine diverse European countries, as well as the US and Hong Kong. The results show that there is a spread of endorsement across all five codes, yet there is also a  significantly stronger endorsement for some codes than others. In addition, there  is  a strong degree of agreement between these principals, and the educational values they perceive their governments to endorse. There is also a strong endorsement for environmental values, not only in theory but in practice, though the  focus tends to be on  pragmatic measures rather than more deep-seated, complex issues. The results suggest two overall conclusions. First, principals and their governments seem to share a belief in the need to appreciate a variety of perspectives and approaches, and they both seem to see  the school experience as one of preparing the student for future responsibilities – a task of ‘passing on the reins of responsibility', which necessarily requires an appreciation of a  complex and ‘wicked' reality. Yet, secondly,  the results from the environmental responses suggests that  neither the principals nor their governments may fully recognize this complexity, nor prepare their students for it. To create sustainable schools within  sustainable societies and  sustainable environments, it seems that a greater recognition of such complexity, and such ‘wickedity', and of how to deal with the challenges it presents, is then required.

Key words: educational values, environmental values, principals, sustainability



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