The purpose of this paper is to describe a study that explores the discreet activist strategies of educational leaders who promote social justice.
Part of a larger project, this study employed qualitative methods. In particular, researchers interviewed 26 leaders – principals, vice principals, department heads, and central office officials who presided over both homogeneous and diverse schools, departments, and districts in and around a large Canadian city. Data were analyzed during and after data collection, and themes were identified, explored, and described.
Given the resistance they faced in their efforts to promote social justice, leaders found that they had to be strategic in their efforts. In particular, they had to position themselves in ways that reduced their visibility and increased their credibility. When they took action, they tended to adopt subtle rather than obvious strategies.
The harsh reality for activist educational leaders who promote social justice is that they will likely have to be strategic in the way they go about their work. Given the nature of their relationships with the organizations in which they work and the power differentials within which they operate, educational leaders may have to adopt low key or discreet strategies if they are to successfully promote their social justice agendas.
Ryan, J. and Tuters, S. (2017), "Picking a hill to die on: discreet activism, leadership and social justice in education", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 55 No. 5, pp. 569-588. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-07-2016-0075
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