Explaining the school management based on scientific metaphor or personal experience? A case study on the management approach of successful school principals

Document Type : Qualitative Research Paper


.استادیار دانشگاه سمنان، گروه مدیریت آموزشی، دانشکده روانشناسی و علوم تربیتی، دانشگاه سمنان، سمنان، ایران


Scientific theories seek to illuminate the tortuous world of our lives. This enlightenment is accomplished by providing documented, valid, and systematic explanations of the world. Indeed, the ultimate goal of any discipline is to produce and present theories that rely on a clear, coherent, reliable, and generalizable understanding of various phenomena. Educational systems are different and the types of phenomena and problems that researchers face are different and varied. Thus, no complete theory can be presented that is universal that is true in all social, cultural, political, and economic situations. It is not possible to present a complete picture or view of organizations. Organizational metaphors or images are a tool for explaining and analyzing organizations. Thus, by considering any metaphor or image of an organization, it is possible to study and analyze different aspects of an organization in order to determine which metaphor the mechanisms of that organization are more in line or which image can be better and more understandable. Offer more acceptance than that organization. Therefore, any organization is like a riddle that every part of it must be discovered and identified in order to finally explain that riddle well. Although the management of Western schools can be explained and analyzed by relying on scientific metaphor, various studies in Iran have shown that this metaphor does not explain the current state of the Iranian educational system. On the one hand, evidence shows that many school principals do not have the competencies required to run a school. Although various studies have examined and analyzed parts of this puzzle, but a part of this puzzle is the approach of school principals to management. Research has not yet examined what source of inspiration school principals use to address their organizational challenges when they face them. In this encounter, do school principals use the accumulation of their own experiences or those of others, or do they use scientific theories? The present study was an attempt to answer the question of how school principals manage schools and what arguments do they use to justify their method? In this study, a case study method was used. The sampling method was also the marginal case method. Borderline or exceptional sampling involves the study of individuals or cases that have characteristics more or less different from the general or common context of society. Explanation building method was used to analyze the research data. Three methods were used to validate the research data. The first was, member checking. The researcher's perceptions and interpretations of the interviewees' statements were re-presented to the interviewees themselves to clarify the correctness or inaccuracy of the researcher's interpretations of their statements and to make edits if there was a misunderstanding. The second was disconfirming the data. In this method, the researcher, at the beginning, provides an initial interpretation of his data and then tries to study and examine cases that are different or even inconsistent with this initial interpretation. The purpose of this method is to provide a mature interpretation by studying different or inconsistent cases. The Third was reflexivity. In this method, the researcher provides his / her initial beliefs, assumptions, and predictions of the research topic to the research reader so that the reader can understand the researcher's biases or prejudices. Identify and, accordingly, judge his interpretations. The findings were surprising. Because the data showed that what happens in school management and is the basis of the work of principals, is only gaining experience and experimentation. As if the school is a campaign for trial and error of managerial decisions and scientific theories and theoretical knowledge of educational management are not used. The findings of this study show that in school management, more emphasis is placed on experience and science and scientific theory have been neglected. The findings show that although the number of interviewees whose field was other than educational management was higher, the number of times they cited experience as their source of inspiration was very high. Most of the interviewees were not in the field of educational management. The findings of this study also showed that the use of experience in school management has little to do with work experience, management level, and type of school. It seems that gaining experience and empiricism in any situation is the only source of inspiration for principals, and more interestingly, by relying on the same empiricism, principals can be successful and manage schools well. However, the fact that the management of our country's schools has not yet taken on a scientific and theoretical form, and that experience is still the dominant discourse in school management, is very thought-provoking and can have various reasons. First, school management in Iran is more concerned with administrative matters than with areas such as strategic decision-making, policy-making, or organizational leadership, which are inherently challenging and require the use of expertise and scientific knowledge. And it has been implemented that by relying on personal experiences or following the example of more experienced people, those things can be done and even succeeded in it. However, school management in today's world is linked to areas such as strategic decision making, policy making, educational leadership, etc., and that is why school management has become a specialized and complex knowledge that only by relying on scientific knowledge and theoretical foundations can it be successful. Secondly, our country's schools do not actually experience responding to the external environment, especially responding to social classes. Third, academic education in the field of educational management may be so inefficient that graduates of the field are not so equipped with the theoretical knowledge and scientific principles of the field that they can apply it in the practice of school management. With this in mind, it is suggested that two key issues be explored in future research. First, the mechanisms and mechanisms of response of our country's schools should be examined and studied. Because one of the reasons for this experimentation may be the inefficiency of schools' response to the external environment. Second, the pathology of university education in the field of educational management should be considered by researchers. This is because even graduates of educational management may draw their management approach from personal experience because they do not have a good grasp of relevant theories.


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