Journal directory listing - Vol.67(2022) - Journal of Research in Education Sciences【67(1)】March

School Principals’ Use and Generation of Capital in Leadership for Learning: A Case Study on the Learning Community Author: Hui-Ling Wendy Pan (Department of Education and Futures Design,
Tamkang University), Jui-Hsuan Hung (Center of Teacher Education, Chinese Culture University)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 67, No. 1
Date:March 2022
Pages:159-191
DOI:https://doi.org/10.6209/JORIES.202203_67(1).0006

Abstract:
Background
Western countries have promoted the school restructuring movement since the mid-1980s. The movement advocates for systemic reform to change the structure and culture of schools and redefine the roles and responsibilities of those involved in schools (Cuban, 1988). Amid this global context, Taiwan began the process of educational decentralization in the mid-1990s. Subsequently, the Ministry of Education implemented a series of student-centered reforms, one of which being the 12-year basic education curriculum, implemented in 2019. This new competencies-based curriculum requires a new paradigm of teaching and learning. However, departing from traditional teaching approaches is challenging for teachers. Thus, guiding teachers and students through the new learning process is crucial for school leaders.
Leadership for learning requires relational and learning-focused communities (Marsh et al., 2014). Pan (2014, 2017a, 2017b) proposed that the learning community is an operational form of leadership for transforming schools. Leadership warrants investigation because it is essential when implementing new curricula. Unlike the approach in studies on leadership practices, we analyzed leadership as a method of capital construction.
“Capital” is variously defined. Bourdieu (1986) described three types of capital: cultural, social, and economic. Fullan and Hargreaves (2016) applied the concept of capital to the context of education and proposed that generating professional capital, including human, social, and decisional capital, would positively and considerably change schools. Caldwell and colleagues indicated that schools with financial, intellectual, social and spiritual capital can successfully restructure (Caldwell & Harris, 2008; Harris et al., 2009) indicated that schools with financial, intellectual, social, and spiritual capital can successfully restructure. They framed “leadership as capital formation;” this notion prompted our examination of principals’ creation of school capital through leadership for learning. To explore how principals use and create professional capital and practice leadership for learning, we investigated one elementary school and one middle school.
Literature Review
(1) Leadership for learning and the learning community
We observed that the concept of leadership for learning evolved through two pathways. The first was the discourse surrounding instructional leadership in North America. Instructional leadership evolved into leadership for learning through the combination of transformational and shared leadership (Dimmock, 2012; Hallinger, 2011). The second pathway involves a paradigm shift in leadership and learning. Leadership refers to a series of activities. Learning is embedded in leadership and life (Lingard et al., 2003; MacBeath & Dempster, 2008). Wagner (2001) argued that leadership for learning is an action theory of school reform. Studies on leading learning and the learning community have supported the aforementioned notions (Lin & Wu, 2016; Chen, 2016; Pan & Hsu, 2019).
“Learning Community” (xue xi gong tong ti , 學習共同體 ) as an approach for school change incorporating Japanese school practices was proposed by Sato and became a buzzword in Taiwan with the publication of Learning Revolution (Sato, 2006/2012). Sato was influenced by Dewey and Vygotsky when he developed his core theories surrounding teacher collegiality and classroom teaching (Sato, 1999/2004, 2006/2010, 2019). Although Sato’s ideas were introduced to Taiwan from Japan, Taiwan also developed an indigenous model that incorporated local practices. Pan (2014, 2017a, 2017b) described the “Learning Community” approach as a form of leadership for learning. The teacher and classroom learning communities encourage collective learning among teachers and students.
(2) Forms of capital
Two perspectives on capital have been adopted. First, the sociological perspective defines capital as assets owned by the dominant class. Bourdieu (1986) applied power relations to his analysis of capital, which takes the economic, cultural and symbolic forms. Second, some studies have linked capital to improving schools and organizational innovation and indicated that professional capital is key to transforming teaching (Chen, 2017; Campbell et al., 2016; Datnow, 2018; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2015; Malone et al., 2017). Professional capital consists of human, social, and decisional capital. Human capital is not a primary driver of school development, and social capital can generate human capital (Fullan & Hargreaves, 2016; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, 2013, 2020).
Methods
We recruited the principals, office ditrectors, and teachers of the two schools. Between April and June 2017, we conducted semistructured interviews with 12 participants regarding their perception of the “Learning Community” program. We employed triangulation and member checking to enhance the trustworthiness (Creswell, 2013).
Findings
The principals used their capital to lead teacher learning and exercised their professional competencies to encourage teachers to commit to improving their instructional practices. The principals were both learners and leaders as they shared their experiences and tended to the teachers’ needs; this process revealed embodied cultural capital. They utilized external so¬cial capital by seeking new ideas and providing avenues for teacher empowerment. The principals also employed various decisional capital-based strategies to encourage the teachers to participate in their reform programs.
The principals accumulated professional capital for their schools as they practiced leadership for learning. The principals guided the teachers through restructuring pedagogical practice by introducing the philosophies and practices of the “Learning Community” program. The teachers were divided into teams to implement the reform and build mutual trust through collaboration. The school leveraged the accumulated cultural capital to implement novel practices. The teachers, changing their habitus, were willing to take risks and try innovative teaching methods, thereby generating decisional capital. They also equipped themselves with the skills to make decisions about complex situations. In addition, interaction among the various forms of capital was converted to symbolic capital, and embedded symbolic power prompted educational change in terms of rewriting rules of the game in school fields.
Conclusion
The results indicate that capital plays a crucial role in school reform. Principals’ capital contributes to their ability to lead teacher learning required for the advancement of student outcomes. The accumulation of professional capital is essential to school reform. In addition, symbolic capital, which can be converted from various other forms of capital, improves the reputations of principals and schools. The trajectories of school practices elucidate the pathways involved in rewriting rules in school fields. The results also demonstrate the cultural specificity of capital. Different from the assertion of Bourdieu (1986) that economic capital is the foundation of all types of capital, we found that social capital is the cornerstone of school change.

Keywords:principal leadership, professional capital, learning community, leadership for learning

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APA FormatPan, H.-L. W., & Hung, J.-H. (2022). School Principals’ Use and Generation of Capital in Leadership for Learning: A Case Study on the Learning Community. Journal of Research in Education Sciences, 67(1), 159-191. https://doi.org/10.6209/JORIES.202203_67(1).0006