Educational leadership for what? an educational examination

Gert Biesta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter raises a number of fundamental questions about education, including questions of its discourse, its purposes, its theories, and its improvement. It commences with a discussion on the question of learning, but argues that learning-and specifically the language of learning-has become a problem for education rather than just its obvious starting point and frame of reference. The purpose in education is multidimensional, which raises some particular issues for the conduct of, and research about, education. This calls for pragmatism at all levels of education. As an alternative to quasi-causal thinking about education, the chapter suggests a complexity-oriented approach, which provides a significantly different way into questions about educational change and improvement. Finally, the chapter discusses the position of the school in contemporary society, arguing that in an “impulse society” there is an important duty for schools to resist rather than just satisfy the desires that societies project onto their schools.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley International Handbook of Educational Leadership
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781118956717
ISBN (Print)9781118956687
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2017


  • Complexity-oriented approach
  • Education
  • Educational leadership
  • Impulse society
  • Learning
  • Pragmatism
  • Quasi-causal thinking


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