In modern Greek and European history education has always constituted a policy making instrument, whereas political activity has always been a form of education. The modern educational imperative has been expressed through the emphasis on the need to strengthen education in order to enhance social and political equality, justice and modern citizenship by means of educational practices and institutions. The expression of modern educational policy in terms of lifelong learning has been put forward as a concern for reducing social exclusion, strengthening social cohesion and individual participation in social life. The evaluative dimension of this educational agenda is supposed to contribute to an inclusive society without any discrimination and marginalization. Various pedagogical suggestions, either theoretical or practical, highlight all kinds of diversity as the prominent dimension of a changing reality that balances between discrimination, tension and conflict and contributes to what is widely entitled “an open, mature and democratic society.”
One could claim that modern education, at all levels, (i.e. theoretical, research, applied, organizational and administrative), offers the necessary prerequisites for achieving the aforementioned aims and, consequently, self-completion and social coherence and prosperity. But how much accurate is this claim, really? What is the purpose of modern education? What is the long-term vision that inspires its servants, the wider society and its dominant culture, the centres responsible for decision-making and the exercise of political power? The realization of the goals of education presupposes not only the exercise of a managerial and experimental minimalism, not only the reinforcement of such an exhausting and exhaustive realism, but also a robust and visionary purpose that will pay justice to the nature of education itself, i.e. education as a means for the paideutic fulfilment of human life in an organized institutional – political context.
In other words, the purpose of education is to educate people, to activate and foster all human (mental, psychological, voluntary, practical and socio-political) abilities in a way that goes beyond the mere assimilation of compatibility, moral and social hypocrisy or ambiguity, educational inertia and political inactivity. In this spirit, it makes sense to claim that these goals can be used in the service of a broader purpose with honesty and unconditionally. This claim makes sense only on the condition that the exercise of educational administration and educational leadership, the practice that determines teaching and learning, educational research and the continuous integration of innovation, education policy and, especially, the educational philosophy that unites all these in an internally consistent and coherent whole, respect and take seriously into account the inherent complexity of human beings and the modern social environment.
Today, philosophy, sciences of education and science in general affirm the relativity and complexity of knowledge. Embracing absolutist myths which serve all kinds of scientific authority, political myopia and sterile dogmatism is and should be a thing of the past. Education, educational research and educational policy are and should be understood and developed in the horizon of the new conditions of knowledge, the new epistemological and axiological criteria. Today, knowledge should never be the result of idiolectic research, transcendent revelation, ubiquitous eschatology or brute force enforcement. Today, we believe that knowledge is the result of the endeavour of the human mind to understand itself, nature and society. We also believe that knowledge is the profound result of the incessant learning process in and through which human beings strive for dignity, social justice and prosperity.
Today, we live in the space of learning, which we must turn into a culture of learning through the support of goals, visions and values. The intellectual and educational complacency that this is already an achievement of our educational activities and policies betrays our false perception of the Enlightenment imperatives about education, our refusal to replace instrumentalism and its market transformations with a rationality of integrity, purposiveness and responsiveness to the great challenges of our time; our refusal to translate knowledge into the new conditions of a new, postmodern Enlightenment of learning. The consequences of our willing blindness: proliferation of the insignificant, homogeneity and intellectual decline, disharmony in the qualitative-quantitative relationship, dogmatic quantification of learning outcomes, management of learning environments with criteria that exceed the educational needs of those involved, manipulation of creative thinking, critique and imagination, exhaustive application of experiential and empirical learning in isolated designs, intense mechanical memorization in teaching and an unjustifiably arrogant and unrealistic perception of heterogeneity (nature, other organisms, other people different than us, etc.). The total indifference to the deficits due to the lack of questioning and criticism, the absence of connections of all forms of knowledge with real life, the unscrupulous rejection of the necessary skills for the preservation of democracy contribute to the transformation of a mere crisis to a complete disaster: the purposiveness of lifelong students-citizens succumbs to the modern, powerless mental containers of memorized knowledge.
It is, therefore, necessary to put forward various reasonable questions: What is the purpose of modern education? What is the long-term vision that inspires it? To what extent and in what ways does it respond to the cognitive, learning and axiological imperatives of modernity? How does it respond to all arising conflicts?
The International Conference on “Educational Leadership, Effective Management and Ethical Values” is concerned to explore the aims of modern education and its multiform and numerous impasses, always in relation with the questions and dilemmas, the challenges and conflicts education has to face. The Conference is concerned to specify these questions under the weight of the tasks and challenges that burden teachers and anyone who exercises management and assumes administrative and leadership responsibilities in education. Of great interest is also the effect of the economic crisis and the recession that has unfortunately afflicted modern Greece and Europe. The Conference includes distinguished Greek and European academic teachers, scientists and researchers, school managers and teachers in service with experience and knowledge coming directly from the educational and administrative fields.
Our aim is to:
a) highlight the challenges and problems faced by educational administration and educational leadership in modern Greece and Europe; b) highlight the work, practices and actions of educational leaders as positive examples of responses to the challenges of modern times; c) strengthen knowledge, skills and experience on issues of ethical leadership, quality and efficiency in administration, management of innovative leadership strategies; d) explore the possibility of new proposals and alternative forms of action in schools and other educational organizations; e) explore contemporary international findings on educational leadership and human resources management; (f) highlight the importance of securing good quality of school education; and (g) assist the emergence of e-government in modern educational management.