Professional School Leadership

Dealing with Dilemmas (Second Edition)

By Daniel Murphy

The ideal school leader is often portrayed heroically, as someone who is able to drive forward an agenda of change and improvement, whatever the challenges. Yet, the experience of school leadership is more complex. School leaders often find gaps between their aspirations and the tensions and moral uncertainties of the job, leading to high levels of personal and professional stress. These tensions arise between individuals and groups within plural school communities, while the competing priorities set for the education system by its political masters are exacerbated by the competing values and interests found in complex societies. In schools, this gives rise to specific and unavoidable dilemmas that affect individuals deeply - dilemmas which can occur on a daily basis. This book uses the concept of 'dilemmas' to rebalance an understanding of the work of school leaders. The perspectives of three disciplines - psychology, politics, and ethics - are brought to bear on the dilemmas, and this '3-D' perspective offers a fuller analysis of what is at stake. The book provides a broad understanding of factors which contribute to the experience - as well as the aspiration - of leadership. It also offers important insights into what the dilemmas reveal about the character of all public service in complex plural democracies. Such analysis is often a necessary first stage in facing up to difficult dilemmas. The book concludes with a 'toolkit' which can be used by school leaders in such situations. It is an invaluable resource for school leaders and those training for school leadership roles.


196 pages

Publication Date: 6/13/2013
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781780460185