Principals' work stories within the neo-liberal school reform

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to investigate the work stories of four principals as they implement a neo-liberal school reform program in their schools. Work stories were defined as explanatory frameworks the principals used to explore the effects of the program. The work stories included several sub-themes, story lines. Discourse analysis was used to identify the work stories and the story lines within semi-structured interviews with the principals. The results indicate that the principals constructed the neo-liberal school reform program as a new, better school culture. The new culture needed to be promoted with enough firmness to establish social norms and to ensure conformity of teacher behaviour. To ensure the implementation of the program, the principals positioned themselves as corporate leaders or sporting coaches with little reference to educational considerations. The work stories positioned the teachers in their schools as 'managed professionals' with diminished trust and respect as teaching and educational professionals. Analysing work stories helps to understand what is happening to particular individuals within particular institutions at particular times. Within the neo-liberal landscape, there is a temptation to think that the social relations, meanings and assumptions of schooling are no longer problematic. Discourse analysis provides one way to see behind these temptations and provides an alternative analysis on neo-liberal reform programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalProblems of Education in the 21st Century
Volume64
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

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school reform
reform program
school program
discourse analysis
teachers' behavior
school culture
Social Norms
coach
conformity
school
Social Relations
respect
leader
Teaching
teacher
interview

Cite this

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title = "Principals' work stories within the neo-liberal school reform",
abstract = "The purpose of this research is to investigate the work stories of four principals as they implement a neo-liberal school reform program in their schools. Work stories were defined as explanatory frameworks the principals used to explore the effects of the program. The work stories included several sub-themes, story lines. Discourse analysis was used to identify the work stories and the story lines within semi-structured interviews with the principals. The results indicate that the principals constructed the neo-liberal school reform program as a new, better school culture. The new culture needed to be promoted with enough firmness to establish social norms and to ensure conformity of teacher behaviour. To ensure the implementation of the program, the principals positioned themselves as corporate leaders or sporting coaches with little reference to educational considerations. The work stories positioned the teachers in their schools as 'managed professionals' with diminished trust and respect as teaching and educational professionals. Analysing work stories helps to understand what is happening to particular individuals within particular institutions at particular times. Within the neo-liberal landscape, there is a temptation to think that the social relations, meanings and assumptions of schooling are no longer problematic. Discourse analysis provides one way to see behind these temptations and provides an alternative analysis on neo-liberal reform programs.",
keywords = "Discourse analysis, Managed professionals, Neo-LiberalismSchool reform, Work stories",
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Principals' work stories within the neo-liberal school reform. / Rafferty, John; Turunen, Tuija.

In: Problems of Education in the 21st Century, Vol. 64, 05.2015, p. 75-85.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - The purpose of this research is to investigate the work stories of four principals as they implement a neo-liberal school reform program in their schools. Work stories were defined as explanatory frameworks the principals used to explore the effects of the program. The work stories included several sub-themes, story lines. Discourse analysis was used to identify the work stories and the story lines within semi-structured interviews with the principals. The results indicate that the principals constructed the neo-liberal school reform program as a new, better school culture. The new culture needed to be promoted with enough firmness to establish social norms and to ensure conformity of teacher behaviour. To ensure the implementation of the program, the principals positioned themselves as corporate leaders or sporting coaches with little reference to educational considerations. The work stories positioned the teachers in their schools as 'managed professionals' with diminished trust and respect as teaching and educational professionals. Analysing work stories helps to understand what is happening to particular individuals within particular institutions at particular times. Within the neo-liberal landscape, there is a temptation to think that the social relations, meanings and assumptions of schooling are no longer problematic. Discourse analysis provides one way to see behind these temptations and provides an alternative analysis on neo-liberal reform programs.

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