Institute for Christian Studies                        Leadership: Vision and Mission Syllabus Winter 2017


To enable students to understand, develop and encourage faithful leadership in the setting of schools committed to Christ-centred education.


School leaders are a vital link in the translation of parents' hopes, dreams and priorities into the life of classrooms. The vision of Christian schooling they support and sustain is not to be simply their own, but rather the vision of the supporting school community. This is at the same time both exciting and problematic. Where does a vision come from? What are the components of an educational vision? How is a vision articulated? How does a vision inform the educational agenda? How does a vision grow and flourish through generations of parents, teachers and students?

Christian schools have developed a variety of management structures that might support a vision for Christ-centred education. This course gives the opportunity for students to examine critically these management structures in the light of:


1.        Educational Visions. Self-reflection will enable students to articulate their own vision of education in terms of aims, the image of the learner, the value of the curriculum, the image of the teacher, and the preferred kinds of pedagogy, teacher-student-relationship, school climate, and parental involvement. Through a careful analysis of educational values and aims, students will endeavour to develop a framework for understanding and analyzing different educational visions.  

2.        Differing Visions. A consideration of a variety of positions Christians might take in relation to schooling, and a further process of self-reflection will undergird a consideration of a critical incident that has had implications for the student's own school community. Processes will be discussed that assist in the clarification and understanding of tension between people within a Christian school. Properly understood and harnessed, these tensions can still serve to promote and develop a communal vision.

3.        Biblical Leadership. An examination of the distinctives of biblical leadership with application to the context of schools. Themes include: servant leadership, accountability, nurture, supervision, example and vision-setting.

4.        Models of Management. An exploration of various models of management and the application of a biblical analysis.

5.        Decision-making. A development of a school's vision and mission anticipates the translation of that vision into the everyday life of the school. How should this happen? What is the role of school leaders in this process? Are there structures that sustain rather than frustrate the development of a dynamic vision and its effective implementation within a Christian school? A range of models will be introduced and then applied to a specific critical incident. The respective strengths and weaknesses of the models will be explored.

6.        Mission Accomplished? Profound goals are at the heart of each Christian school community. How can we determine whether these goals are being achieved and the mission of the school is being fulfilled? How might such an evaluation inform the practice of Christian schooling?


Sergiovanni, Thomas J. (2004). The Lifeworld of Leadership: Creating Culture, Community, and Personal Meaning in Our Schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

There is a 2013 review of this book, affirming its continuing relevance, at

Stronks, Gloria Goris and Doug Blomberg (Eds.). (1993). A Vision with a Task: Christian Schooling for Responsive Discipleship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

This text is available free as a PDF file for reading and/or printing at There is also a link on this page to a web version, but this contains transcription errors.


Andersen, W.E. (1990). The principal’s role in community building. Journal of Christian Education. Papers 98, September, 31-40.

Ball, S.J. (1987). The politics of leadership. In S.J. Ball, The Micro-Politics of the School: Towards a Theory of School Organization. London: Routledge, 80-119.

Bolman, L.G. and Deal, T.E. (1994). Looking for leadership: another search party’s report. Educational Administration Quarterly. 30(1), 77-96.

Bottery, M. (1990). Values behind the practice. The morality of the school: the theory and practice of values in education. London: Cassell, 6-16.

Bradley, Y. (1991). Leadership in the biblical sense. The Practising Administrator. 13 (2), 32-36.

Brandt, R. (1992). On rethinking leadership: A conversation with Tom Sergiovanni. Educational Leadership. 49(5), 46-49.

Cunningham, W.G. & Cordeiro, P.A. (2003). Successful school leadership. Educational leadership: A problem-based approach. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 135-184.

DuFour, R. (2002). The learning centered principal. Educational Leadership. 59(8), 12-15.

Fowler, S. (1994). The practice of community in learning and teaching. Paper presented at the Scholarly Conference for Christian Teacher Educators, Sydney, NSW, 8 & 9 July.

Fullan, M.G. (1992). Visions that blind. Educational Leadership. 49(5), 19-20.

Fullan, M. (2003). The moral imperative of school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc., 29-45.

Fullan, M., with Ballew, A.C. (2004). Leading in a culture of change: personal action guide and workbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 11-27.

Grace, G. (1993). On the study of school leadership: beyond education Management. British Journal of Educational Studies. 41(4), 353-365.

Gronn, P. (1999). The values of leaders. The making of educational leaders. Management and Leadership in Education series. London and New York: Cassell, 85-104.

Hollaar, L. (2001). Leadership is community building: a postmodern and independent school perspective. The Christian Teachers Journal. 9(4), 7-13.

Holmes, M. & Wynne, E.A. (1989). Making the school an effective community: belief, practice and theory in school administration. London: Falmer Press, 7-42.

Lambert, L. (1998). How to build leadership capacity. Educational Leadership. 55(7), 17-19.

Leonard, P.E. (1999). Examining educational purposes and underlying value orientations in schools. In P.T. Begley (ed.), Values and educational leadership. SUNY series, Educational Leadership. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 217-235.

MacBeath, J., Moos, L., & Riley, K. (1998). Time for a change. In MacBeath, J. (ed.), Effective school leadership: responding to change. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd, 20-31.

Mant, A. (1997). Intelligent leadership. St Leonard’s, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 4-11, 100-104, 121-131.

Mulder, C.T. (1990). Biblical leadership in Christian organizations. Faculty Dialogue. Winter, No 13, 79-103.

Murphy, J. (2002). Reculturing the profession of educational leadership: new blueprints. In J. Murphy (Ed.), The educational leadership challenge: redefining leadership for the 21st century. One Hundred-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part I, 75-78.

Noddings, N. (2005). What does it mean to educate the whole child? Educational Leadership, 63 (1) 8, 10-13.

Peck, J., and Strohmer, C. (2000). Uncommon sense: God’s wisdom for our complex and changing world. Sevierville, TN: The Wise Press, 119-130.

Sacken, D. (1994). No more principals! Phi Delta Kappan. 75(9), 664-670.

West, S. (1993). Educational values for school leadership. London: Kogan Page, 13-45.


I grew up in the fruit-growing belt of the Niagara Peninsula. After graduating from McMaster University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours Political Science), I spent one year at McGill studying political theory at the graduate level. In 1979, I graduated from the Ontario Teacher Education College (Hamilton) with a Bachelor of Education along with an Ontario Teacher's Certificate. From 1979 to 1986 I taught Grade 7 at Trinity Christian School in Burlington. During this time I completed the requirements for the Christian School Teacher's Certificate. This was followed by 15 years teaching primarily Grade 8 at Fruitland John Knox Christian School in Stoney Creek.  During this period I completed a Master of Education at Brock University. At both Trinity and John Knox, I served as vice-principal, specializing at John Knox in curriculum leadership.  In 2001, I joined the Education Department at Redeemer University College and soon enrolled in a doctoral program at Brock from which I graduated with a Ph.D. in 2009. For 10 years I served as Chair of the Department, including the last two years as Director of Teacher Education. I retired this past June.


Doug Blomberg is President and Professor of Philosophy of Education at ICS. After completing a dissertation focusing on the implications of a Christian theory of knowledge for school curriculum, Doug was called in 1977 to Mount Evelyn Christian School, in Melbourne, Australia. There he was a teacher, Senior High School Coordinator and later Vice Principal (Curriculum). He was also Principal of the (now National) Institute for Christian Education from its inception in 1978. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian College of Education for his contribution to the theory and practice of Christian education. In the following year he was part of a team researching Christian schooling at the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship.

Doug has published numerous articles on Christian schools and other topics, and co-authored and edited A Vision with a Task, Humans Being and ReMINDing: Renewing the Mind in Learning. His book, Wisdom and curriculum: Christian Schooling after Postmodernity was published by Dordt Press in 2007.

Doug and Heather moved to Canada in January, 2003. They are now dual citizens of Canada and Australia.








9 Jan

1: Peck & Strohmer

Segment One

Read Course Description.


16 Jan

2: Brandt

3: Bradley

4: Mulder

Segment Two

Read Assignment 1 outline.

Post to discussion forum.


23 Jan

5: Bottery

6: West

Sergiovanni, 1 and 2

Segment Three

Post to discussion forum.

Hangouts Conference: TBA


30 Jan

7: Holmes & Wynne

Stronks & Blomberg: 1, 2

Sergiovanni: 3

Segment Four

Post to discussion forum.


6 Feb

8: Fullan

Sergiovanni: 5, 6

Segment Five

Post to discussion forum.


13 Feb

9: West

10: Andersen

11: Fowler

12: Hollaar

Sergiovanni: 4

Segment Six

Post to discussion forum.


20 Feb

13: Cunningham & Cordeiro

14: Ball

15: Leonard

Segment Seven

Post to discussion forum.

Begin Assignment 2

Hangouts Conference: TBA


27 Feb

16: Sacken

17: Lambert

Sergiovanni: 7

Segment Eight

Post to discussion forum.

Part 1 of Assignment 2


6 Mar

18: DuFour

Stronks & Blomberg: 4-6

Segment Nine

Arrange to implement Part 3 of Assignment 2.


13 Mar

19: Mant

20: Fullan

21: Fullan & Ballew

Stronks & Blomberg: 7

Segment Ten

Post to discussion forum.

Complete questionnaire yourself (Part 2, Assignment 2).


27 Mar

22: Bolman & Deal

23: Grace

24: Gronn

Segment Eleven

Post to discussion forum.

Conduct survey with colleagues.

Hangouts Conference: TBA


3 Mar

25: MacBeath

Stronks & Blomberg: 8

Segment Twelve

Post to discussion forum.

Continue Assignment 2.


10 April

26: Murphy

27: Noddings

Sergiovanni: 9

Stronks & Blomberg: 3

Segment Thirteen

Continue Assignment 2.

Assignment 2 due 8 May 2017


The assignments are integral to the completion of this course. They are not merely assessment of work done elsewhere in the course but are themselves a major part of the learning experience. Your final grade for the unit will be determined by your performance on these tasks.


Length:        Minimum 3,500 words (weekly postings of approximately 250 words each)

Weighting:        30%

On-line discussion forum

This assignment asks you to reflect critically on your own thinking and development as you work through the Study Guide. The Study Guide contains many places where you are asked to write responses to questions, to comment on readings, to evaluate your own understanding and behaviour, etc.

Each week, you are required to post your reflections on these reflections—your “meta-reflections”—to the course blog. (You will be notified how to access this once enrolments in the course have closed.)

You may briefly summarise and then reflect critically on your own ideas and uncertainties related to the topic of leadership, as these grow out of and extend the ideas you have already formulated and recorded in the Study Guide. You should raise specific questions and issues related to the topic of school leadership that you feel are worthy of further investigation.

As an alternative (or in addition) to posting your own reflections, you are invited to comment on the postings of other students; in this way, a lively discussion may emerge.


Length:        4,000-5,000 words

Weighting:        70%

Due:                8 May 2017

An investigation of educational values


Peter Senior states that, “To be effective leaders, principals must articulate the key goals and values for their schools. The way in which teachers interpret the principal’s behaviours determines their perceptions of what these goals and values are” (1993, 106).

Bearing this in mind, the assignment provides an opportunity for you both to articulate your educational values and to consider the degree of consonance between your espoused values and your colleagues’ perceptions of your operational values, to assist in your critical evaluation of both kinds of values.


Setting the scene

The school board has recently confirmed your appointment as principal of your current school, to begin in one month’s time. (The principal you are replacing is leaving unexpectedly, due to serious health problems.) You were interviewed along with six other applicants from both outside and inside the school, and you were supported unanimously for the position.

Your first task will be to fill four vacancies on staff. In making these appointments you will naturally be seeking to realise the kind of vision and values that you believe should be operative in the school.

Outline of the research
  1. Write a description of your school.
  2. Complete a series of tasks designed to help you to articulate your educational values.

3a) Design a questionnaire and use this to solicit colleagues’ perceptions of the values you would emphasise in the appointment of new teachers. Your questionnaire should yield data concerning:

  • The extent to which your colleagues hold a common perception of the educational purposes and teacher characteristics that you value;
  • The relative importance that teachers perceive that you give to these characteristics and values.

3b) Evaluate your leadership behaviour.

Research Report

Part 1  (approximately 500 words)

Write a description of your school, in which you include details of the:

  • geographical and socio-economic setting
  • theological foundation and emphasis
  • major changes and developments, e.g., growth in numbers, number of principals, changes in student/parent body
  • broad educational goals
  • types of teachers it has attracted and retention rates
  • types of special programs
  • relationship with the wider community

This will help you (and your instructor) understand the history and development of your school and the way in which your involvement in it is shaping your educational values.

Part 2  (approximately 500 words)

  1. Drawing upon the work that you have completed in the first part of the course, articulate your key educational values in the form of a list (between five and ten items).  

  1. Write approximately 250 words about the current vision of the school, and the degree to which this vision is compatible with your own understanding of what the vision should be.

  1. Indicate the qualities you think teachers will need to demonstrate if they are going to be instrumental in enabling the school community to realise the vision and values you have articulated.

Part 3  (approximately 2000 words)

What do your colleagues perceive your vision and values to be?

  1. Using the questionnaire you have developed (for which guidance is provided below), survey ten teachers in your school and write a summary of your findings (approximately 500 words).

  1. In approximately 1500 words, evaluate your leadership behaviour. You may draw on whatever sources are helpful to you in this evaluation. One of these sources, however, must be the findings of your survey, which you will employ to:
  • evaluate and explain any inconsistencies between your perception of your educational vision and values and other teachers’ perceptions of these;
  • help you to identify behaviours that need to be consolidated and those that need to be revised to ensure that your leadership behaviour is consistent with your vision and values.

Appendix: Include the questionnaire you have designed as an appendix to the Report.

Questionnaire Design

A Specimen Questionnaire, focusing on categories of teacher characteristics that represent alternative values, is included below. In designing your own questionnaire, however, you should draw on other sources both within the unit and, where appropriate, beyond it.

You should devise an instrument that clearly embodies the educational values to which you hold strongly, as well as a range of values that may be very significant to others but which are of lesser or little importance to you. The more articulated and comprehensive these values are, the more discriminating will be your questionnaire. It is thus important to complete Parts 1 and 2 of the Research Report before—or in conjunction with—developing the questionnaire.

Specimen Questionnaire

Which of the teacher characteristics listed below do you believe ________ values most highly?  Please rate on a scale of one to ten (ten being of the highest value).

Student Centred

The teacher focuses on student achievement of curriculum objectives. Has an analytical approach to monitoring and evaluating school and classroom performance. Students perform well on the curriculum. Main interest is in ideas and activities which 'work' for student learning.

People Centred

Is sensitive to the feelings of staff and students. A good team member who is able to make compromises and adapt ideas to recognise group sensitivities. Makes class work enjoyable and encourages participation and involvement in class and school activities. Students are happy and involved.

Extra-Curricular Centred

Has particular skills or interests outside or beyond those normally required in the classroom. May have achieved a high degree of recognition within the wider community for these. Keen to involve students in these areas and devotes considerable time and effort to doing this.

Work Centred

Is willing to take on a range of extra duties outside the classroom. A good organiser and always prepared to help out with special activities, organising resources and routine administrative tasks. Does many of the tasks around the school which other classroom teachers claim that they are too busy to do.

Student Welfare Centred

Has great awareness of the needs and situations of individual children. Will personally take up the cause of those seen to be disadvantaged, or treated unfairly, even where it may strain relationships with parents, principal, or other staff. Someone with whom students will share their personal problems.

Diligence Centred

Always completes tasks on time. Never fails to turn up for assigned duties, or to attend thoroughly to details. Will always establish clearly what has to be done and does it. Is aware of all the rules and procedures and ensures that they are adhered to. Students know where they stand.