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Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership

Christine Cunningham

Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership documents the author’s research as a K-12 principal in an elite American International School in Bolivia. During those years she kept a daily journal of her work that revealed exactly how the school fabricated college transcripts and passed failing students and examines why the school remained unaccountable for its corrupt actions.
Against a backdrop of national crisis when Bolivia’s indigenous majority struggled to gain executive political power and invoke inclusive and pluralistic education reforms, this book details how the school’s plutocratic processes helped to guarantee that its wealthy young graduates would retain their privileged place in society.
As the title suggests, Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership reveals the author’s professional Dilemma to remain true to her education ideals while leading a corrupt school. How she resolved this ethical predicament is the crux of this study and illuminates the challenges and inspiration of doing Critically Reflective Leadership.


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CHAPTER 5 Contesting Assumptions that Inform Practice 99


CHAPTER 5 Contesting Assumptions that Inform Practice The school is not a neutral objective arena; it is an institution which has the goal of changing people’s values, skills and knowledge bases (Heath, 1983). As we participate in writing freely and descriptively about ourselves and our work we can uncover the ‘autopilot’ which guides much of our day… The discovery of the autopilot leads to the recognition of taken-for-granted assumptions implicit in our understandings of our socio-cultural world (Street, 1990: 10-11). Introduction In the previous chapter I outlined the context and setting of the Bolivian international school, Colegio Americano, that is the case study of this research. Through my personal-professional journal I was able to pro- vide a sense of the school’s location, purpose, culture, ethos and people. I now turn to the second stage of the Critically Reflective Practice (CRP) model proposed by Smyth (1999a) – informing. According to Smyth (1999a) this is the stage where the practitioner begins to explore what is happening within their school by using an investigative phrase, “it looks as if…” as a means of illuminating experience. Whereas the first stage of 100 CRP provided a largely descriptive and superficial reading of what was happening, the second stage begins the task of narrowing and deepening the analytical focus by theorising some dominant themes, issues and questions emerging from everyday practice. Informing necessitates the use of opinion and the phrase “it looks as if” shows the subjective nature of this stage of the CRP process. None- theless,...

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