One of the major adversities of applying values and ethics in educational leadership from a innovative perspective lies in convincing academic institutions and administrators to think differently about leadership through Aristotelian principles. Educational executives themselves, are challenged to rethink traditional pedagogical curriculum regarding leadership principles and techniques and are encouraged to utilize Aristotle’s philosophy, specifically, the nature of practicing right actions, integrity, and espousing these principles through living a virtuous life (Lapsley & Narvaez, 2006). In turn, virtues of an academic administrator can be encapsulated in the concepts of values and ethics espoused by school officials. Applying values and ethics in educational leadership includes understanding that supervisors should be men and women of principled character. Applying Aristotle’s virtue constructs in educational leadership training course work defines such character traits and what it means to be a moral agent. As a moral obligation, educational leaders have an responsibility to demonstrate care in the schools that they supervise. Learning to differentiate between Aristotelian virtues and how these values and ethics are to be integrated in educational leadership curriculum programs are the major composition of this paper and will become the fundamental examination of effective educational leadership.
Applying Values And Ethics in Educational Leadership Through Aristotelian Principles
As an introduction to academic administration and ethical behavior, many have proposed the following questions: Does academic leadership training curricula teach ethical accountability? Secondly, is what they teach sufficient? And lastly, is there a direct correlation in the merging of academic leadership with Aristotelian virtues that result in a more authentic type of leader? To be a moral and ethical educational leader, one would need to uphold the ideals of justice, compassion, and empathy for the betterment of each member in the school in which he or she governs. Also, the need to identify and measure the educational leaders commitment to moral character in part to protect the interests of mutual stakeholders is an essential component under consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of academic administrators.
Peer-reviewed journals and articles approach varying definitions pertaining to virtue, moral values, or ethical practice in the realm of academic leadership. It is apparent that many have opinions regarding the subject and how each should be addressed. However diverse the definitions are, all authors acknowledge the call to return to more ethical accountability in educational leadership.
The challenge presented is one of defining academic leadership through moral ethical dilemmas. Such dilemmas are confronted by diverse course content material that is lacking and considered insufficient to produce appropriate outcomes to solve difficult situations. The paper is outlined to include the following sub-headings for the purpose of direction and mapping subject matter, these include: Applying values and ethics in educational leadership, the principled academic administrator, applying Aristotle’s virtue constructs in educational leadership, a moral obligation to care in educational leadership, differentiating between values and ethics, integrating values and ethics in educational leadership curriculum programs, and finally pulling it all together in the conclusion.
The Principled Academic Administrator
Academic administrators are entrusted with the duty to act in accordance to ethical behaviors, with so many ethical misappropriations in the media spotlight, and recent scandals had in academic institutions, many have question if current leadership training curriculum found in administrative educational leadership programs fail to teach sufficient ethical accountability (Propheter & Jez, 2012). Curriculum that addresses characteristics traits associated with moral virtues in the context of school administration must question if moral virtue such as those espoused by Aristotelian principles will developed a more authentic leader? Bowen, et al. (2006), notes that doctoral programs should place more emphasizes on ethics than on management. Educational leaders must be able to command leadership skills that are committed to moral character and ethical behavior, have the interest of and mutual respect for all stakeholders at heart, support and promote teacher and student alike, are engaged in justice, care, compassion and empathy and are highly motivated by the individual success of each of the members of the larger community of the school of which he is to govern (Pijanowski, 2007).
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Academic leaders make decisions that impact the lives of teachers, students and parents, making the act of leadership a moral issue. An educational leader’s core set of values, or set of beliefs, is the ethical framework from which a leader develops a vision for the school in which he administers. Associated with administrative leadership, is the constant call for change, thus the academic leader becomes the change agent and will direct, define, and shape the change sequence that leads the schools progression and improvement for all stakeholders.
Understanding this concept of leadership helps further define what educational leadership is, Starratt (1991) elaborates by noting educational leadership includes virtual ethics such as critique, justice and caring. That is to say that school administrators will be faced with decisions that will required them to critique hierarchy and bureaucratic boards who may tend to bow to public pressures or sway with public opinions. Starratt argues that justice is formed in some standard but that this standard must be held above one individuals passion and serve the greater good of the many. This Starratt (2004) called the community of moral goodness, wherein many individuals would join together for the greater good of the whole forming a relationship of effective leadership. This would then lead from one state of moral responsibility to a higher state of moral responsibility. In turn, individuals in a community form a relationship in caring not out of obligation but out of a sense of positive regard for one another.
Academic administrators embedded with these qualities will constitute the principled leader. Therefore, there is a need for the call of Aristotelian constructs in educational leadership curriculum graduate programs.
Applying Aristotle’s Virtue Constructs In Educational Leadership
Applying an Aristotelian philosophy to educational leadership is perhaps the most logical approach to value and ethical driven curriculum specifying virtues in school supervision. Kodish (2006) incorporates the suggestion that Aristotelian philosophy bridges both theory and the practice of moral and right action. Drawing on insights of authentic leadership and virtue, Aristotle’s (1987) defines virtual states of character as having to do with feeling, choosing, and engaging in actions that do well toward others and doing so until these characteristics form in us habitually.
This hypothesis leads us to conclude that a good academic administrator will embrace and exemplify a number of these traits or virtues, in ethical manners especially in regards to his role as the academic head. It is the purpose of this paper in part, to identify a few of these Aristotelian virtues as they are related to educational leaders. A short composition on morals, judgment, respect, genuine, empathy, care, and courage will be explored as basic components of the makeup of the moral fiber regarding the academic leader.
Morals. Aristotle classifies moral virtue as the excellent state of an individual and good judgment. He sees this character as an intellectual virtue embracing moral rational and the ability to have moral perception along with sufficient insight to make ethical decision not only for one’s self, but for the larger community.
Judgment. As moral character is an essential element of choice to act right, so is judgment equal to wisdom and practical judgment in Aristotelian philosophy. Good judgment often requires the academic leader to use wisdom in decision making processes. Ethical administrative judgment is a virtue of academic administration. Aristotle would simply state that curriculum driven programs need to teach students that moral virtues are the characters of acting in good judgment.
Empathy & Respect. Aristotle would promote the idea that empathy and respect are interconnected and go hand-in-hand. That these two components are essential elements in a school leaders character and as such they exist mutually together and serve the best interests of all stakeholders at heart. He would suggest that these interests are cradled in the simplest proponents of the Golden Rule and promote a climate of mutual worth for all persons.
Genuine Authenticity. Starratt (2004, p.3) identifies authenticity as one of the ‘foundational virtues’ of ethical leadership. To be genuine or authentic as an academic supervisor requires leaders to live ethical, transparent life’s that demonstrate leadership, stewardship, and commitment to a sense of spirituality. Educational leadership is authentic to the degree that it is ethical, sincere, genuine, and trustworthy in action and interaction and that such interactions are consistent with the promotion of others wellbeing. In the context of school leadership, this includes the success of staff and student alike.
Justice, Care & Courage. Shapiro and Stefkovich (2005) argued that moral virtues associated with leadership have a particular importance to safeguard and promote the best interests of others. When the ethics of justice, care, and courage are joined with an ethic of inclusive Aristotelian discourse, educational administrators have a model to ethical decision-making founded on principle.
Moral Obligation To Care in Educational Leadership
As moral agents, educational leaders should act in accordance with personal values and
convictions that incorporate the respect, trust and integrity for being authentic and true to their
values. The ethic of care implores educators to nurture the emotional and moral development of students. This moral value requires educational administrators to focuses on affirmation values such as trust, loyalty, belonging, self-worth, and self-efficacy in the process of education, making academics about individuals in the educational profession.
As care agents in education, caring ethics would refer to the relationship created between student and teacher. As administrators over educational institutes, caring incorporates the obligation to respond to the needs of not only students, but staff, teachers and other stakeholders. This may include addressing curriculum designs to meet the needs of a diverse student body, staff needs based on census loads, and responses to classroom environments. Care must not be based on a one time efforts at virtuous decision but ongoing developing ontological relationships.
Creating An Ontological Relationship In Educational Leadership
Cunliffe and Eriksen (2011 p.1432) would argue that “we exist in mutual relationships with others and our surroundings and that we both shape, and are shaped by, our social experience in everyday interactions and conversations.” It appears that such theories in relational ontology lay the foundation for mutual members of an organization to extend mutual respect and regard toward one another when such relationships are formed.
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The basic contention of a relational ontology is simply that the relations between entities are ontologically, as Cunliffe (2009) explains, the Relational leader is more concerned with creating interpersonal relationships and institutions, where the focus is on ethical issues of ‘care, concern, and respect.’ Ontological relationships in academic leadership should include relationships as more fundamental than the individual leader. This is accomplished by working through various difficulties or differences together with other members of the academic community and assuming ownership and mutual responsibility, where moral relational-responsiveness is demonstrated. In return, mutual respect is enhanced, a sense of safety and nurturance is experienced and mutual regard are honored allowing for positive interaction to be had among all stakeholders who in turn are more apt to further their personal investment into the program. Identifying what are considered values and separating ethical boundaries are sometimes difficult in relationships, especially is this so in the guise of administrative roles. Having a better understanding of the essential role of each in educational leadership is important.
Differentiating Between Values and Ethics
Ethical decision making among educational leaders is an essential element of administration, teaching ethics is only one component of a construct necessary for making ethical decisions, staging values as important in and of itself will not suffice. Instructing academic leaders on this principle is vital in changing the direction of educational supervisors in becoming cognizant driven regarding ethic and value mindsets.
Beckner (2004) has indicated research literature on educational administration has placed a greater emphasis on the moral values and ethical practices associated with school administration then has been promoted in the past. Shapiro and Stefkovich (2005) have supported that school officials have a duty and obligation to all stakeholders for whom they are accountable to be moral agents that are informed, ethical, and capable to lead.
Darling-Hammond (2005) makes a case regarding educational leadership graduate preparation programs to include real-life dilemmas in curriculum training materials so as to better prepare administrators with the process of ethical decision-making. As Kline (2006) indicates, failure of strong ethical training is at the center of most corruptible educational leadership and administrative dilemma, noting that most dilemmas faced by educators lack sufficient policies to direct how to solve issues before and when they do come to light. As a profession, supervisors who oversee curriculum development, have a moral obligation to ensure that educational administration programs found at the graduate level, train prospective leaders in the principles of virtues associated with the development of ethical operating schools (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2005). As literature review recommends, it is imperative that both moral values and ethical principles become an integrated ingredient of curriculum development in educational leadership programs. The following section of this work will address this critical issue.
Integrating Values And Ethics In Educational Leadership Curriculum Programs
Avolio, et al. (2009) suggested that authentic leadership includes both a sense of greater self-awareness and self-regulated behaviors that lead to positive community development. Avolio and colleagues feel that authentic leadership is essential and one of the first steps needed in ethical leadership preparation. Curren (2008, p. 338) includes ethical instructions as a vital aspect of leadership training course work for future administrative leaders noting that these cardinal virtues are essential and “would be a good start toward articulating what it means to be an ethical academic administrator.”
Cameron and Caza (2002) incorporate ethics instruction in leadership preparation studies curriculum to include the academic institutions role and it’s obligation to the student and larger community. Given the obligation that professor have to students in preparing them for the future administrative duties, and that this obligation goes beyond just a professional one, Kline (2006) suggest that instructors of ethical courses must make a deliberate decision to think of the student beyond academic settings. In other words, how does one’s behavior reflect on other aspects of the individuals complete life, not just in the administrative role?
Ethics must be an essential part of course content. Returning to Bowen et al. (2006), which assert that ethic curricula should include codes of conduct, framework on ethical decision making practicum’s, and adequate case studies with frequent examinations to ensure future administrators are prepared to deal appropriately with dilemmas that they will be confronted with. Without the commitment to strong ethical integration in curriculum program, ethics courses are seriously compromised. Implementation is as crucial as is the content. The question then becomes how is this best achieved?
The State of West Virginias Department of Education operates under a code of ethics. Codes of ethics are design to guide the professional conduct of the members who practice in their fields. As with most ethical course preparation, research of code conduct directive is a must. Students are led to investigate and research content that require review of state and national code of ethics. Graduates should become familiar with these codes and reference them frequently. Opportunity to discuss, debate and examine case studies in ethical dilemma will better prepare future administrators to handle real-life experiences that may confront them as school supervisors. Additional internships with real-time school directors can enhance administrative skill-sets in ethical problem solving outside of classroom content, with hands-on practicum learning.
Educational leaders need to develop a working knowledge of Aristotelian virtues from which effective school administrator rise. Additionally, institutions of higher learning need to incorporate these values into graduate curricula programs, emphasis to strengthen academic administrative training program with stronger ethics and value latent material centered on Aristotelian virtues has been the theme of this paper. Review of literature certainly has supported the need and indeed has extended the call for academic leaders who are better prepared to lead educational institutions. Academic supervisors however, must distinguishes themselves and be refined in aptitude through curriculum that include moral values and ethical content rich in ethics, archetype, and critical evaluations that aspire leaders and encourage them to develop critical thinking skills and make decisions that are based on the common benefit of all person in a larger educational community. Academic leaders that adhere and reflect a higher level of insight in discharging their duties as administrators, understand that such considerations have an impact on their lives and the lives of their students also understand that they will influence not only an immediate generation, but will effect generation yet to be born.
Expanded research is needed to increase our understanding of the ethical dilemmas confronted by academic leaders. Challenges faced in educational institutions require ethical responses and require insights based on values that are saturated in virtue. Values include appropriate morals, judgment, genuineness, empathy, care, respect for others, and the courage to stand for what is right, not what is always popular. Principled men and women who are espoused and trained in Aristotelian philosophy should inform policy and strategies in academic administration to ensure that every stakeholders voice is heard, recognized and needs are being addressed. That too, the best interest of the educational institution is being forwarded. Academic leaders have a moral obligation to care about their staff, students and all constituents who have a vested interest in their academic establishment and to the larger community in which they serve. These relationships are formed from an ontological concept, meaning they are ‘logical’. When united in a common act of ethical consideration for one another, we logically uplift one another.
Additional consideration should be given to graduate programs training educational professional in academic supervision. Course content should include in curricula development, content rich in Aristotelian concepts leading to the learning and development of school leaders in their activities to attain authentic leadership observance which are embedded in ethical constructs. Content must take care to ensure differences between values and ethics are made clear and how these should be integrated into the curriculum and espoused in the classroom and among all staff members. Applying Aristotelian values and ethics in graduate educational leadership programs may prove beneficial in restoring ethical prudence to academic administrative roles.
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