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Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership

Cunningham, Christine (2010) Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Corrupted Principles documents my research as a naïve and new K-12 principal in Bolivia. From 2002-2006 I spent four years teaching and observing hundreds of incidents that detailed the hidden underbelly of a prestigious and elite American International School in one of the western hemisphere’s poorest nations. During those years I kept a daily journal of my work that revealed exactly how some of the richest and most powerful families in Bolivia colluded to ensure that their children gained exclusive access to education opportunities and privileges.

Against a backdrop of national crisis while Bolivia’s Indigenous majority struggled to gain executive political power and invoke inclusive and pluralistic education reform, Corrupted Principles details how the school’s plutocratic processes helped to guarantee that a new generation of wealthy young graduates would continue to stand against their fellow citizens as advocates of neo-liberal imperialism. Grounded in Critically Reflective Practice and its four step cycle from professional critique, through confrontation then to reconstruction of education practice, the text weaves thick description of school administration experiences and whole-school events with critical education theory. Through this process I uncover how the school fabricated college transcripts and passed failing students and examine why the school remained unaccountable for its corrupt actions.

As the title suggests, Corrupted Principles reveals my professional dilemma to remain true to my education ideals while leading a corrupt school. How I resolved this ethical predicament is the crux of this study and illuminates the challenges and inspiration of doing Critically Reflective Leadership.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Aveling, Nado
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