Global movements of people are changing the social world, no longer are societies relatively homogeneous and culturally stable. Educational communities are increasingly diverse in nature and in the recognition that education should be both accessible and equitable for all, school leaders are being challenged to manage multiple and diverse ethnicities. Leading and managing for diversity is receiving increased academic and practitioner attention, yet within the field of educational leadership and management there remains a dearth of empirical research. I aim to address this deficiency and provide research findings from the New Zealand component of a tri-nation study that identifies how school principals manage ethnocultural diversity. Firstly, while the principal works largely within a framework of externally imposed constraints he/she exhibits a form of agency developed through self-identity and experience. Thus I contend that leadership develops through difference rather than an essentialised meaning. By contesting a normative construction of leadership, I offer insight into how individualized agency enhances contextualized pathways to managing school diversity. Secondly, by examining leadership strategies of principals, I explore mechanisms used in different contexts to ensure inclusion of all ethnicities into the culture of a school community. Differing practices highlight and exemplify the tension in current discourses between managing for diversity as against the managing of diversity. By identifying leadership practices in ethnoculturally diverse settings, I question the tendency to celebrate differences between individuals as a mechanism for inclusive practice, as this risks avoiding real engagement with the complexities of diversity. Finally, I challenge the development and sustainability of certain inclusive practices. Instead I highlight the need to continually re-evaluate assumptions around diversity and modes of practice. As the principal becomes subject to an increasing complexity in their environment, so managing ‘multiple and diverse ethnicities is…a serious issue for access and inclusion’ (Shah, 2004, p. 2).
|Keywords:||School Leadership, Ethnocultural Diversity, Inclusivity|
Postgraduate Student Research Director, Postgraduate Division, Unitec New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
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