Understanding Educational Leadership and Curriculum Reform

Beyond Global Economism and Neo-Conservative Nationalism


  • Michael Uljens Åbo Akademi




hermeneutic educational leadership, non-affirmative education, Bildung


On a state level both curriculum policy work and educational leadership are increasingly challenged by new transnational phenomena in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas alike: expanding cultural neo-national-ism, more populist politics, economic protectionism, new forms of self-centered identity formation, reli-gious fundamentalism, mistrust in democratic political participation, and decreasing respect for knowledge institutions and established media. These developments have many roots but appear partly as consequences of neoliberally driven policy initiatives and globalization. Consequently, there is increasing mistrust as to whether curriculum, leadership, and evaluation initiatives driven by a global neoliberal policy may provide sustainable solutions for guiding reforms in the public sector, including education. Not surprisingly, also the existing curriculum and educational leadership theory are under scrutiny. This article provides openings pointing to a hermeneutic and systems-oriented, multilevel and professional approach for reorienting na-tional systems with respect to collaborative work on curriculum, leadership, and evaluation. Such a Bild-ung-centered view on human identity, growth, and citizenship is congruent with a non-affirmative educa-tion theory (NAT). It provides a conceptualization that is able to deal with curriculum and leadership gen-uinely based on an idea of education. Such a position grounds educational leadership, curriculum, and pol-icy work, as well as evaluation and school reform, in education theory. As a general education theory the non-affirmative position is able to bring together an analysis of educational aims, contents, and methods of schooling, teacher professionalism, and leadership. In addition, NAT frames an understanding of how cur-riculum work at different levels is initiated, implemented, and enacted. In bridging these perspectives, it is argued that critical and hermeneutic NAT provides a theoretically productive approach to present-day local, national, and global education problems. As a foundational frame of reference, NAT allows us to perceive curriculum discourses as different forms of mediating, hermeneutic invitations, and summoning to self-activity and self-formation (Bildung), within and for a democratic polity.


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How to Cite

Uljens, M. (2018). Understanding Educational Leadership and Curriculum Reform: Beyond Global Economism and Neo-Conservative Nationalism. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(2-3), 196–213. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.2811