Social justice in education: joy in education and education for joy

Morwenna Griffiths

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter proposes that educational leadership is properly characterized as leadership for social justice and, therefore, for joy from learning and joy in learning. My argument takes the form of a critical, philosophical autoethnography which demonstrates and explains my current understanding of social justice, as a result of nearly 40 years in education as a teacher, leader, and researcher. I argue that social justice is an irreducibly complex concept. Smooth, simple formulations have their place, but only if they are continually brought into contact with the uneven awkwardness of the changing contexts of real classes, schools, colleges, and universities. Using examples from my own experience to illuminate and interrogate ideas and practices, I develop a practical, theoretically informed approach to social justice for educational leaders. I argue that it would be helpful to think of social justice as a verb, since it is always an attempt to act in ways which make the world a good place to live and in which good lives are lived. But such attempts are always made in the knowledge that all understanding and actions are founded on imperfect, provisional judgments made in specific contexts of learning and diversity. These judgments are difficult precisely because they require attention to a number of related principles while remaining mindful of how social contexts are always in a state of change. It is an approach in which the comforts of certainty are not available. However, it is one in which enjoyment, satisfaction, and laughter help in the high purpose of constructing a satisfying working life dealing, with justice, with human individuals in all their wonderful complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Handbook of Educational Leadership and Social (In)Justice
EditorsIra Bogotch, Carolyn M. Shields
Place of Publication978-94-007-6554-2
PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-6555-9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2013

Publication series

NameSpringer International Handbooks of Education


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