Values and ethics in the decision-making of rural Manitoba school principals
Hicks, Christopher W.
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This study examined the extent to which the espoused values and ethics of rural Manitoba school principals were reflected in their practice. The present study was framed around the possibility of seeing the rural Manitoba school principalship, ultimately, as a moral practice. To do this, attention was given primarily to Western philosophical approaches to human understanding and their relationship to the development of values and based on contemporary understandings of the Western philosophical traditions that have dominated the conversation around ethical administrative practice. The social context of this research concentrated on leadership experiences of four school principals in rural Manitoba. A form of naturalistic inquiry model was used to gather a sense of the stories of these principals through the lens of their personal value structures and the impact their values structures have on their professional decision-making processes. The analysis of the data showed no evidence of the principals separating their personal values from their professional values. Also, the local community context figured strongly in the working lives of the principals, and was a main factor in their decision-making priorities. Values of democracy, faith, respect, and common vision were cited as having a stronger impact than things such as policy, law and even consensus in their leadership approaches. There is much more to be said about the experiences of the rural Manitoba school principals than merely the role of the local community context in their working lives. A comparison to the experiences of urban Manitoba school principals might disclose a greater attention other variables such as justice and critique in the rural principalship than is readily apparent. A deeper and more comprehensive examination of rural stories would potentially bring to light the compelling nature of their character.