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Democratic Leadership - A local story

Leadership is traditionally viewed as an individual property and researched from the perspective of behaviours, traits or characteristics that these individuals possess. Notions of democratic leadership can offer early childhood centres a more expansive conception of leadership to include children, teachers and families. This study explores the possibility of positioning all stakeholders in an early childhood centre as leaders by repositioning leadership as a jointly constructed, emergent process. Drawing on an existing feature of the kindergarten programme, that of regular excursions within the local community, connections are interwoven between children’s inquires, democratic principles and elements of place based education. Using narratives from five excursions in the local community the study experiments with Leadership-as-practice to analyse how these excursions fostered democratic and inclusive participation of children and adults. Inquiry as a form of participatory democracy is a key feature of decision-making and provides a common purpose for community excursions while encouraging leadership opportunities. The study reveals the potential of leadership-as-practice, underpinned by democratic values as an approach to leadership in early childhood organisations, enabling leader/follower roles to be blurred and learning to be co constructed during dialogue. The local community holds enormous capacity as a system to facilitate democratic leadership and promote place based learning and citizenship education. This study recognises that democratic leadership exists in tension with current neo liberal beliefs and therefore positions itself as a counter to the current market driven early childhood environment. The underlying belief of this study is that leadership can occur as a collaborative practice, emerging through day to day experiences and seeks to contribute to the slowly emerging body of research concerned with early childhood leadership.  
Type of thesis
Dowling, L. A. (2017). Democratic Leadership - A local story (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11356
University of Waikato
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