Learning from the Life Histories of School Leaders
Edited by Ciaran Sugrue
Foreword by Ivor F Goodson
Routledge – 2004 – 210 pages
This book puts 'real life' back into the literature on school principalship. Through a life history approach, it portrays daily life in schools as a much more messy, contested and precarious existence, where principals struggle with passionate commitment to find continuity amongst frequently changing and often conflicting policy initiatives.
The book draws on comprehensively in-depth interview data with new, experienced and veteran principals. Their life stories illustrate the struggles involved in the ongoing negotiation of identities through unprecedented change. The authors lucidly argue that:
* The realities of principals' lives are much more demanding that rational linear approaches to reform suggest;
* A revolving door approach to the appointment of principals is inadequate
* Passion is central to the lives and work of principals, but this passion needs to be rejuvenated and rekindled through opportunities for learning
* There is a need for further research on the relationship between the lifecycles of principals, the leadership legacies of school communities and the cycles of mandated reforms as a means of lending coherence to leadership learning and sustained and renewed leaders.
This is essential reading for principals and their professional bodies, academics and researchers, school leaders on leadership courses internationally.