Educational management and lifelong learning sample essay
The models of theory which have been introduced into the educational sector are many, and while they have distinct names and functions, several have the tendency of overlapping with others. Six major models are presented here, in the orders of formal, collegial, political, subjective, ambiguity and cultural (Bush, 2003). These models complex constructs that are characterized and grouped into these clusters based on their relationships to different factors within the institution in which they are identified.
Classification of these models is based on their agreement in such areas as the goals of the organization, their relationship to the dynamic of structure, as well as their orientation regarding an institution’s interaction with its environment (2003). Adult or lifelong learners are proliferating within today’s educational system and the posture of an institution’s management has the capacity to influence the experience of these types of students.
Lifelong learners have needs and concerns that diverge from that of traditional students and the ability of teachers, administrators and principals (or deans) to cater to these non-traditional needs depends not only on their willingness to do so, but also on the type of managerial model that is present within the educational institution. The following paper discusses the principles of each of these managerial theories of education and relates each to the experience of the lifelong learner. Formal Models
The formal models of theories of educational leadership and management emphasize the elements of educational institutions that might be considered official or structural (Bush, 2003). These models are based on the hierarchical envisioning of organizations and on the idea that the objectives pursued and achieved by managers are done using rational means. The form or structure of the organizations endows the organizational or departmental heads with their authority based on the positions to which they have been assigned. The formal model comprises five basic models, all of which to some degree contain the following seven features.
The first feature is the tendency toward a systemic view of organizations, with each element of the system possessing an identifiable and demonstrable link with the other. Within an educational organization, this is represented by the different departments and elements (professors, secretaries, teachers and students) that make up these departments. The prominence of a given structure within the organization is another feature that defines such formal models. The flow of this structure is usually identifiable through organized patterns, and the usual pattern within educational organizations—that of hierarchy—defines the third feature.
This hierarchy of the different departments as well as the order of authority possessed by the members within each defines this structure. Teachers are, for example, subordinate to heads of department, who are in turn subordinate to principals, and so forth (Bush, 2003). The formal models also render schools as organizations that seek out goals, and these official objectives are usually adopted by those who subscribe to the organization (Beare, Caldwell, & Millikan, 1989).
The rationality of the processes that define managerial decisions within schools is also a feature adopted by the models within the locus of formal theories. Such decisions often involve the consideration of all alternatives before selecting the most feasible and profitable. Within these formal models, the authority granted to leaders and managers is considered to derive from the positions they hold. Therefore, their authority is only tenable as long as they remain within their position. Finally, formal models emphasize the role of the body that sponsors the organization (sponsoring body).
This necessitates that the educational institution be accountable to this sponsoring body, which usually takes the form of governments. Formal Models and the Lifelong Learner Within the arena of lifelong learning, the normative and prescriptive nature of these theories possesses strengths and weaknesses. While the systemic and hierarchical nature of the models allow for adult learners to understand and follow the chain of command, the fact that students are often placed at the bottom of this chain proves problematic for the adult learner.
A more collaborative and egalitarian setting would be more appropriate for an adult learner, as he or she is likely to possess authority in other areas of life and would be uncomfortable merely being submissive within this educational setting. Furthermore, since adult learners are more apt to take responsibility for their learning, their inclusion in the decision-making processes would be curtailed in a very rigidly structured model of education. The problems identified with the formal model address some of the issues that involve lifelong learners (Bush, 2003).
The power distribution and structure denies the important role of the individual in making and influencing decisions. Adult learners are often consulted about programs that they are interested in pursuing, and often chart their own paths in the achievement of goals. Therefore, the goal-oriented nature of the formal model, while technically substantiated where lifelong learners are concerned, gives little acknowledgement to the relative autonomy of this type of student in formulating and achieving these goals. Much of the lifelong learning and continuing studies which takes place within this age does so via the internet.
Within such an educational environment, the systemic and hierarchical nature of educational management is vastly altered. Classes are no longer taught by teachers in a teacher-student hierarchy. Rather, students involved in teaching themselves via materials merely uploaded by “teachers” or professors. Therefore, the idea that the power available within this organization resides at the top of the pyramid again is faulted. Also, the structure of the organization does appear to change into a more egalitarian one in order to accommodate the more responsible adult learner.
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