Umeå University's logo

umu.sePublications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Exploring schools as controversial spaces: Variations in content and impact on leadership practices
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0009-0007-3528-2641
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6240-587x
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9897-7850
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Principal Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4636-1886
Show others and affiliations
2024 (English)In: NERA 2024: Abstract Book, 2024, p. 292-292Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research topic/aim: School is often described as mirror that in its pedagogical practice and content captures or reflects societal challenges and opportunities (Johansson, 2015). Therefore, societal questions aligned with tension usually find their way into the classroom and the discussions that take place here between teachers and pupils in teaching situations. In educational research these so-called controversial issues are a well-known field of study and have been so for several years (Larsson & Lindström, 2020). In this study we want to learn more about how school staff, and especially principals, handles issues that are seen as controversial in school.

Our aim is to explore schools as sites for controversial spaces (CS) and we are interested to see what impact these have on school- and leadership practice. The main questions for this investigation are as follows: (1) What are the differences and similarities of CS depending on school context? (2) How does the content of CS influence leadership practices?

Theoretical framework: Our study draws on the theoretical concept of controversial spaces to capture how different controversial issues affect principal's leadership (Rantala et al, in press).  

Methodological design: In total, a set of 26 in-depth, loosely structured interviews with principals in pre-school, primary school, and upper secondary school. The overarching theme of the interviews was the impact and consequences of controversial issues on leadership and school practice, and the collected data were subjected to a conventional content analysis (Hsieh and Shannon, 2005).  

Expected conclusions/findings: Preliminary findings suggest that schools’ controversial spaces are aligned with urgent or low-pressure content depending on schools’ socioeconomic composition. Principals in socially vulnerable areas deals with urgent controversial spaces exemplified through issues such as gang crime, drugs, racism. Hence, the space is filled with issues that demand a leadership that instantaneously takes actions. Here leadership must communicate and interact with actors outside of school, for example the police, social welfare, or the pupils’ guardians.  

In contrast, principals in well-situated school contexts act within controversial spaces constituted by issues that are less imperative, for example sustainability. Principals that lead in these schools tend to solve these issues in-house in communication with staff and pupils, hence the controversial space of school is primarily an internal affair. 

The possibility of agency (focused on students'/children's learning and teaching) for the principal thus differs depending on the context. The more social unrest, less room for principal to advocate their agency directed to pedagogical enhancement.  

Relevance to Nordic educational research: This study has relevance for contemporary Nordic educational research as it contributes with theoretical concepts to understand and analyze controversial issues that principals deal with in all Nordic countries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2024. p. 292-292
National Category
Pedagogy Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-222313OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-222313DiVA, id: diva2:1844188
Conference
NERA Conference 2024; Adventures of Education: Desires, Encounters and Differences. Malmö, Sweden, March 6-8, 2024
Available from: 2024-03-13 Created: 2024-03-13 Last updated: 2024-07-02Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text in DiVA

Other links

Programme and Abstract Book

Authority records

Poromaa Isling, PärAhlström, BjörnLeo, UlfLarsson, MagnusRantala, Anna

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Poromaa Isling, PärAhlström, BjörnLeo, UlfLarsson, MagnusRantala, Anna
By organisation
Centre for Principal Development
PedagogyEducational Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

urn-nbn

Altmetric score

urn-nbn
Total: 79 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf