Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE) 2018-11-20T01:48:28+01:00 Halla Holmarsdottir Open Journal Systems <p><em>Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE) </em>seeks to analyze educational discourse, policy and practice and their implications for teaching and learning. The journal investigates topics through an interdisciplinary lens focusing on new insights and fostering critical debate about the role of education in diverse societies. <em>NJCIE</em> is concerned the interplay of local, national, regional and global contexts shaping education. The ways in which local understandings can bring to light the trends, effects and influences that exist in different contexts globally highlight the general understanding of Comparative and International Education in <em>NJCIE</em>.</p> <p><em>NJCIE</em> invites Nordic and international contributions alike. The journal includes research from all geographic regions in the world.</p> Making sense across levels in local school governance 2018-11-20T01:48:20+01:00 Øyvind Henriksen <p>Dialogues and relations between interdependent leaders working at different hierarchical levels within a given school governance system are crucial for developing shared understandings which are seen as a prerequisite for effective school development. Shared understandings among interdependent actors emerge from productive and dialogical sensemaking processes. The current study provides insight into how sensemaking plays out in dialogue meetings set up by a school superintendent and a team of subordinated school leaders, initiated at the purpose of establishing and maintaining a shared interpretation community working with important areas of pedagogy and schooling. Drawing on action research with observations, reflective conversations, and reflection notes from five key participants in the local school system, and framed within a theory of sensemaking, this issue is addressed by demonstrating how dialogue meetings strengthen the relations between a superintendent and school leadership teams. In such a context of asymmetrical power relations, the current study argues that sensemaking constitutes the pivotal activity in dialogue meetings when ensuring productive relations and bridging the gap between municipalities (as school districts) and schools. In the dialogue meetings subjected to the study, steps were taken towards shared understanding, and the involved leaders set the tone in this process by acting as role models, as facilitators of creating space for reflection.</p> 2018-11-17T09:13:59+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## The Potential of Positive Leadership for School Improvement 2018-11-20T01:48:21+01:00 Karen Seashore Louis Joseph F. Murphy <p>In this paper, we undertake four formative assignments: (1) We introduce the idea of positive school leadership (PSL) based largely on theory and research conducted outside the educational sector and introduce four orientations that anchor PSL; (2) we develop ideas about how asset-grounded concepts of leadership can be incorporated into schooling; (3) we examine how concepts underlying PSL may affect schools, classrooms, teachers, and students; and (4) using narrative research and grounded theory we introduce an overview of empirical evidence linking PSL and valued outcomes. We conclude by discussing the significance of PSL for organizational theory and leadership preparation and professional development.</p> 2018-11-11T23:40:28+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Educational Leadership at Municipality Level 2018-11-20T01:48:21+01:00 Sigríður Margrét Sigurðardóttir Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir Börkur Hansen <p>The purpose of this study is to explore the roles and responsibilities that national education legislation in Iceland imposes on municipalities in terms of leadership. A qualitative content analysis was applied to explore the relevant national legislation—that is, education acts, regulations, and curriculum guides—and identify themes by looking for specific words that are characteristic in leadership practices. The findings reveal that policy ends concerning educational leadership of municipalities are somewhat tacit in current national legislation. Yet, the roles and responsibilities that the state delegates to municipalities comprise leadership functions that are distributed in nature and, to a large extent, harmonize with desired leadership practices as emphasized in the literature. Legislation emphasizes comprehensive education, but also in-cludes signs of technocratic homogenization. In the discussion of our findings, we argue that the educational system is quite dependent on the political emphasis at each given time, making it difficult for both munic-ipalities and the state to facilitate a cohesive leadership emphasis. We suggest that closer attention to the local level, and a recognition of it as an important unit and agency for educational development, is of sig-nificant importance. These observations will be followed by a further investigation into the actual practice of leadership at the local level.</p> 2018-11-07T22:29:41+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Leading and Organising Education for Citizenship of the World 2018-11-20T01:48:22+01:00 Lejf Moos Elisabet Nihlfors Jan Merok Paulsen <p>This special issue discusses governance, leadership and education in the light of Nordic ideas about general education and citizenship of the world. Particular focus is placed on the battle between two very different discourses in contemporary educational policy and practice: an outcomes/standard-based discourse, and a general education-based discourse of citizenship of the world.<br>Our point of departure is that we need to analyse the close relations between the core and purpose of schooling (the democratic Bildung of students) and the leadership of schools and relations to the outer world. On the one hand, society produces a discourse based on outcomes, with a focus on the marketplace, governance, bureaucracies, account-ability and technocratic homogenisation. On the other hand, society focuses on culture in the arts, language, history, relations and communication, producing a discourse based on democratic Bildung and citizenship of the world.</p> 2018-11-07T14:36:01+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Historical Amnesia 2018-11-20T01:48:22+01:00 Eirik Johannes Irgens <p>A number of initiatives have been put forth over the last decade to improve quality in Norwegian schools. Many have been nationwide government-initiated programs. However, several studies express concern about the actual effect of these programs, and some also point to a lack of local anchoring and involvement of teachers. In this article, I draw on studies of one such program. Ungdomstrinn i utvikling (Lower Sec-ondary in Development) was a five-year school-based competence development program in more than 1200 lower-secondary level schools. We found that the local start-up phase and the co-determination of the teach-ers were crucial, and few schools drew on knowledge from the 1960s in Norway on how to organize dia-logue seminars so teachers might have a chance to participate in the local design of the program and estab-lish a shared understanding and knowledge of the challenges at hand. Instead, we found examples of a transaction perspective and an “order and deliver” model of competence development. I discuss this as a possible consequence of the influence of instrumental management theory and why the Nordic cooperation model, even though challenging for school leaders, local union representatives and teachers, would be a better approach to school development. Lastly, I argue that we should avoid historical amnesia and that we would probably be better off if we revived the knowledge from the 1960s and after on co-generation and collaboration.</p> 2018-11-07T13:25:39+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Educating and Leading for World Citizenship 2018-11-20T01:48:23+01:00 Lejf Moos <p>Two perspectives on local and global societies, and therefore also on education, are explored and discussed in this paper. On one hand, society as a civilisation is producing an outcome-based discourse with a focus on marketplaces, governance, bureaucracies and accountability. On the other hand, society focuses on cul-ture through arts, language, history, relations and communication, producing a democratic Bildung dis-course. At a global level, I see those discourses shaping discourses of world citizenship and of global mar-ketplace logics with technocratic homogenisation. Those trends and tendencies are found through social analytic strategies in these categories: context of discourses, visions, themes, processes, and leadership.</p> 2018-11-07T11:05:46+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Making Sense of Assignment 2018-11-20T01:48:24+01:00 Sören Augustinsson Ulf Ericsson Henrik Nilsson <p>The primary aim of this paper is to narrow down the description of how school leaders interpret the assign-ment (the task) and identify the markers for how they look upon the conditions of doing a good job in Sweden. The aim is in the context of practice-based and process-oriented research. We use complexity and complexity theories to frame the emerging practice of leading and organizing. This is in contrast to techno-cratic homogenization—that is, law texts, steering documents, documentation, standardized methods, plan-ning, and ceremonies. A questionnaire was conducted with three open questions (n=363 out of a possible 548 participants) and four focus groups (n=21). Complexity, dilemmas, and inconsistency emerge in the respondents’ answers the closer they are to everyday action. The results show that complexity theories put focus on a conflict between the image of schools as complicated and complex. Complicated is accompanied by generalizing and weak contextualizing of control systems, standardized methods, planning, law texts, and evidence-based education—that is, the concept of technocratic homogenization. Complexity theories emphasize the life in organizations, everyday practice as leaders, and a conflict between weak and robust contextualizing from the perspective as practice-based and process-oriented research.</p> 2018-11-07T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Committing to School Development 2018-11-20T01:48:23+01:00 Eli Ottesen <p class="Abstract"><span lang="EN-GB">School leaders are faced with an unprecedented growth in school data accompanied by expectations that they use this data to improve their institutions. Current technologies enable complex processes of unifying and analysing data in personalised and accessible formats. This study investigates a tool developed by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training called the Point of View analysis (PoV). The PoV combines outcome-based data on achievement, data from staff surveys about current practices, and the staff’s reflections. A central tenet in Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is that material tools do not just regulate the activities of humans, but have their own agency and form relationships with their human counterparts. This analysis positions the PoV as an actor that may transform, distort, or modify meaning or elements. A content analysis of the PoV instrument is conducted, and interviews with three school principals who have used the tool are analysed. An ANT-inspired analytical approach is used to demonstrate how the PoV tool connects local practices with national policies and discourses in emerging and fluctuating networks. This analysis revealed that powerful policy discourses may be compromised by their entanglement with local and regional concerns.</span></p> 2018-11-07T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## The Principle of Singularity 2018-11-20T01:48:25+01:00 Marianne Döös Lena Wilhelmson Jenny Madestam Åsa Örnberg <p>This paper provides insight into the legislative process behind the current Education Act of Sweden. The aim is to shed light on how and why it came to prohibit joint leadership for principals. Joint leadership is a sub-form of shared leadership between managers characterised by complete formal authority, hierarchic equality and merged work tasks. The sharing of a principal’s position is, in previous research, identified as potentially favourable for principals and schools as it decreases principals’ often heavy workload. Five retrospective interviews were done with people involved in the legislative process. The analysis points out both distrust in the governing line and uninformed notions of leadership among legislators as explanations behind the prohibition. In the legislative work, joint leadership was at most a marginal issue. Thus the legal prohibition was an unintended side-effect, yet completely in line with traditional and uninformed notions of leadership. The principle of singularity ruled and joint leadership was extinguished for principals without considering whether this favoured or harmed the overarching aims of the Education Act: increased peda-gogical responsibility and leadership with a focus on the students’ learning, results and democratic upbring-ing.</p> 2018-11-02T10:37:28+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Creating Cultures of Equity and High Expectations in a Low-Performing School 2018-11-20T01:48:26+01:00 Jorunn Møller <p class="Abstract" style="line-height: 115%; margin: 18.0pt 0cm 15.0pt 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%;" lang="EN-GB">The literature on successful schools has revealed that a school culture of high expectations is beneficial for student achievement and that leaders may exercise significant influence on their school’s success trajectory. However, less information is known about how leaders at different levels interact to build such cultures in local schools or how standards of professional work and new demands interact to support teachers’ com-mitment to quality education for a diverse student population. This study aimed to examine the interplay between district and school leadership in creating cultures of equity and high expectations for all students in a Norwegian low-performing school. Methods included interviews with the principal and the superin-tendent, focus group interviews with deputies, teachers and students, and a survey among all students in grade 10 at the selected school. The study demonstrated how leading teachers’ effort to raise academic and social standards among students was a complex endeavour and how a productive interplay between district level leadership and school-level leadership became one of the key enabling factors. A main argument is that promoting quality education for all begins with the question of purpose and requires understanding how principals’ and teachers’ work is embedded in broader social structures of power.</span></p> 2018-11-02T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Understanding Educational Leadership and Curriculum Reform 2018-11-20T01:48:25+01:00 Michael Uljens <p>On a state level both curriculum policy work and educational leadership are increasingly challenged by new transnational phenomena in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas alike: expanding cultural neo-national-ism, more populist politics, economic protectionism, new forms of self-centered identity formation, reli-gious fundamentalism, mistrust in democratic political participation, and decreasing respect for knowledge institutions and established media. These developments have many roots but appear partly as consequences of neoliberally driven policy initiatives and globalization. Consequently, there is increasing mistrust as to whether curriculum, leadership, and evaluation initiatives driven by a global neoliberal policy may provide sustainable solutions for guiding reforms in the public sector, including education. Not surprisingly, also the existing curriculum and educational leadership theory are under scrutiny. This article provides openings pointing to a hermeneutic and systems-oriented, multilevel and professional approach for reorienting na-tional systems with respect to collaborative work on curriculum, leadership, and evaluation. Such a Bild-ung-centered view on human identity, growth, and citizenship is congruent with a non-affirmative educa-tion theory (NAT). It provides a conceptualization that is able to deal with curriculum and leadership gen-uinely based on an idea of education. Such a position grounds educational leadership, curriculum, and pol-icy work, as well as evaluation and school reform, in education theory. As a general education theory the non-affirmative position is able to bring together an analysis of educational aims, contents, and methods of schooling, teacher professionalism, and leadership. In addition, NAT frames an understanding of how cur-riculum work at different levels is initiated, implemented, and enacted. In bridging these perspectives, it is argued that critical and hermeneutic NAT provides a theoretically productive approach to present-day local, national, and global education problems. As a foundational frame of reference, NAT allows us to perceive curriculum discourses as different forms of mediating, hermeneutic invitations, and summoning to self-activity and self-formation (Bildung), within and for a democratic polity.</p> 2018-11-02T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Leadership Strategies in Diverse Intake Environments 2018-11-20T01:48:27+01:00 Brit Bolken Ballangrud Jan-Merok Paulsen <p>The case study subjected in this paper was designed to illuminate how school leadership strategies and interventions mediate external demands, in the form of the academic press, for raised outcomes, imposed from the policy environment on a school with a heterogeneous pupil population. The Norwegian research site is situated in a demographic environment of low pupil socioeconomic status, a group of factors that in other systems predicts 60%—70% of academic achievement. More specifically, the intake environment in which the school is situated is characterized by high ethnic heterogeneity and, for some parts, low scores on parents’ social welfare indicators. Data was collected from a school characterized as low performing, defined by pupil achievement on national tests, yet these outcomes had been progressing over time. Find-ings are based on observations as well as interviews with school leaders, teachers, the superintendent in the municipality, and pupils, together with a pupil survey. The paper analyzes various leadership strategies and interventions as mediating functions between the external academic press from the school district level and the internal cultural context of the school. Specifically, the findings suggest that building a core culture of inclusive ethos for all pupils, paired with pedagogical collaboration, and democratic and servant leadership, are important devices for mastering this form of diversity. The leadership practices and collaborative focus were furthermore anchored in a systemic and more integrative school organization that purposefully com-bined hierarchical structure with horizontal elements in a matrix-like design.</p> 2018-11-02T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Sensemaking and Power 2018-11-20T01:48:27+01:00 Merete Storgaard <p>The modernization of governance and the marketization of the Danish public education sector since the 1980s, has resulted in changes both in the constitutive conditions and in the discursive understandings framing the purpose of the public education system for educational leaders, teachers, and social educators working in schools. We know less about how the neoliberal modernization processes affect the schools at a micro-processual sensemaking level and a relational power level. In this analytical perspective, there is a scientific need to understand how these organizing and sensemaking processes are conducted through the discursive construction of power relations in modernized, institutional settings, and how these processes affect the organizational understandings, professional identities and social relations of the members in a high-achieving Danish public school. I investigate leadership from a micro-analytical perspective, as inter-action processes centered around the creation of common understanding and the enactment of policy, and mobilize a theoretical understanding of leadership processes as social sensemaking constructions that are constituted, framed and transformed in a given context of discursive and institutional power. I argue that the members of the organization holding both formal and informal leadership positions construct under-standings through social power struggles in ambiguous and contradictory discursive orders. Further, these struggles create new power relations and democratic forms of leadership within a hidden power structure of a high-achieving Danish school owing to governance transitions in the Danish public education sector.</p> 2018-11-02T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Conceptualizing Professional Commitment-Based School Strategy 2018-11-20T01:48:28+01:00 Jan Merok Paulsen <p>Core values inherent in the Finnish comprehensive education system can in many respects be interpreted to cluster and cohere around a Bildung discourse, which is paradoxically seen against the backdrop of the system’s stable high rank in PISA, the hallmark of an outcome discourse. Yet the point is that within the frames of a Bildung discourse, the themes in focus for curricula go beyond basic skills with a similarly strong focus on societal values and culture. At the process level, Finland is more deeply and strongly infused with a policy culture that is more compatible with the Bildung tradition than the Anglo-Saxon outcome discourse—with its core values of organizing and leading for relations and teaching. As noted by Finnish scholars, such cultural traits of the Finnish system are viable and can be interpreted as associated with institutional path dependency, anchored in longstanding agrarian and social-democratic values. The current paper interprets these cultural traits also as manifest at the local level around a school strategy model close to the one characterized as a professional commitment strategy in the early 1990s by the American scholars Susan Rosenholtz and Brian Rowan. The purpose of the paper, however, is to advance this theoretical understanding a step further towards a conceptual model of commitment-based school strategy. This paper is, thus, a pure conceptual piece. To elaborate the early insights from the 1990s further, a case drawn from Helsinki primary school is used as an empirical illustration.</p> 2018-10-25T00:00:00+02:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Editorial 2018-11-20T01:47:48+01:00 Tony Burner 2018-06-12T00:00:00+02:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement##