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Art and artistry in the theory and practice of educational administration: a study of twenty-five headteachers in rural China

By Peter Ribbins and Jun Hua Zhang


In recent years there has been a growing disenchantment with a narrowly mechanistic and instrumental approach to leadership as theory and practice. A key aspect of this developnlent has been a mounting interest in the contribution of the arts and of aesthetics to enhancing understanding of, and improving practice in, leadership. A number of writers have also begun to consider the art of leadership and leadership as an art. This monograph draws on such ideas, most especially the work of Sun Tzu, and to a lesser extent Clausewitz, on the art of war, in order to develop a preliminary framework for the study of the art of leadership and the artfulness of leaders. This framework is applied to an interview based study of the lives and careers of 25 sccondary headteachers from Yunnan, a n~raal nd impoverished province in western China. Some of the findings give cause for concern. Very few of those interviewed had wished to become teachers. Most had done so because they had no choice, no other choice, or no better choice. Most acknowledged that they had not done well enough in the national examinations to he able to opt for a more desirable occupation. Teaching was seen as very demanding, of low status and poorly paid and a sizeable minority only remained in teaching because of inertia or a lack of realistic alternative. Very few had given much thought to becoming, let alone preparing to become, a headteacher before being appointed and several had actively sought to avoid headship. Most had found headship very difficult, especially at first and many argued for better preparation, training and support. There are indications that the Government is beginning to address such problems. The monograph notes some of these and concludes with some ideas designed to enable further improvement

Topics: N224 Management and Organisation of Education
Publisher: Queensland Institute for Educational Administration, Brisbane
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:1012
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