Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoughts on leadership in education colleges

Our college of education at Purdue is seeking a dean. A thoughtful colleague at another institution had these words about such searches:

"I've been through several Dean searches, one recently of course, and it's a tough market for really good people. The job itself can be very tough, especially if you aren't in a resource-rich environment -- and who is?

The different academic cultures within an Ed School seem increasingly incommensurable to me -- theory/practice, qualitative/quantitative, early-childhood to adult ed, psychometric test designers/ radical postmodern critics, touchy-feelies and hard-nosed empiricists, hands-on school personnel trainers and abstract philosophers, etc etc. I can't think of another college or department with anything like that sort of range.

The status issues and mixed messages many Ed Schools get from the central admin seem very difficult to reconcile. And the tradition itself -- for all its talk of progressivism, blah blah, strikes me as institutionally extremely conservative, even reactionary."

I particularly agree with the idea about the different academic cultures within an ed school, and of course they are present in mine. We spend a great deal of time discussing these differences, trying to make bridges, but I am not sure we understand each other.


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