Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 425–441 | Cite as

The ‘Crucified’ Leader: Cynicism, Fantasies and Paradoxes in Education

  • Dion Rüsselbæk HansenEmail author
  • Lars Frode Frederiksen


In this paper we argue that transnational as well as national political demands and expectations on the educational field are contributing to (re)produce four ideological-based educational leadership discourses in the literature. In order to conceptualize these discourses, we turn to the work of Schmidt (Diagnosis I—Filosoferende eksperimenter. Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 1999, On respect. Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, 2011) and Zizek (Mapping ideology. Verso, New York, 2000, The sublime object of ideology. Verso, New York, 2008a). On that basis we identify four dominant educational leadership discourses: (a) a personhood-based discourse, (b) a profession-based discourse, (c) a standard-based discourse, and (d) a resource-based discourse. These discourses have—as we will show—various consequences for the way we think and talk about education and educational leadership in our age. Using examples that stem from a project about educational leadership in Danish upper secondary school, we will illustrate how educational leaders’ beings and doings are ‘regulated’ by these discourses, which place them in a tension field where different and conflicting (ideological) fantasies seem to be played out. Then, we will discuss how these fantasies can be challenged and how we can think and speak more intellectually about education and educational leadership. By using the term intellectual we are referring to educational leaders’ ability as human beings to critically reflect on their contemporary doings and beings within and beyond the existing social order. Hopefully this can help them (and us) to establish new ways for discussing not only what educational leadership is and should be about, but also what it could be about.


Educational leadership Paradoxes Cynicism Tendencies Fantasies and ideologies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department for the Study of Culture (Education)University of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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