In Oceania, school leaders negotiate their leadership within a complex set of wider community relationships – the ‘context behind the context’. The legitimacy and authority of school leaders to educate is deeply embedded within their communities. An informed approach to leadership development for Oceanic education means appreciating this relational context.
This paper draws on findings from conversations with school leaders in Solomon Islands, Tonga and Republic of the Marshall Islands. It looks at how they negotiate their positional leadership with different domains of influence (education, church and kastom). It ends with recommendations on how to understand the context behind the context including the need to value social cohesion and the collective good, and the need to understand leadership as a values-driven, sacrificial orientation to relationships.
This research used Oceanic oralities – traditional modes of communication that honour what people know and are experts in – to conduct the conversations. Talanoa was used in Tonga; bwebwenato in Republic of the Marshall Islands; and tok stori in Solomon Islands.
Check out the previous DLP publication from this project, Contextualising leadership: Looking for leadership in the everyday.