A Conversation with the Research of John Smyth
Chapter Five: Educational Policy and Leadership
c h a p t e r t w of i v e Educational Policy and Leadership Towards an Imagined Future—Some Reflections from John Smyth This is a field of educational inquiry in which it is easy to quickly become cynical and dismissive of because of the totalizing way in which educational leaders and policy makers around the world have become captured and implicated in doing some deeply damaging work in inflicting a neoliberal agenda upon schooling. To that extent, it is a field that is verging on if not already completely moribund. The reasons that make it so unattractive, deformed, intellectually bereft and repulsive, are also the reasons why we ought not desert it and leave it to the neoliberal bar- barians. In other words, educational policy and leadership are ripe for and in des- perate need of a reinvigorated socially critical approach. A way into this might be for me to pose the general question: how might C. W. Mills have envisaged such a move? If we start with something like the quest for a sociological imagination, then we might be able to begin to bring this into conversation with the kind of socially critical ideas I have been working with, and out of this begin to frame some quite different questions to those that have come to capture the field as it currently exists. It is worth reminding ourselves that Mills was a scholar on a mission of unmasking the workings of power, and to that...
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