Date Approved

2017

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

James Berry, PhD

Committee Member

Wendy Burke, PhD

Committee Member

Gary Marx, PhD

Abstract

Understanding the underlying issues that drive the success or failure of curriculum enactments is an important step in redesigning school reform efforts. This paper describes a phenomenological study of five elementary teachers as they participated in the selection and enactment of a new reading curriculum for a period of two and a half years. Steven Searle’s theory on status functions and the role that binding operational decisions and language play within social systems describes the process by which attenuating mythologies arise and ultimately threaten the viability of curriculum initiatives. The connection between status functions, the leaders that declare them and maintain status function relationships, and the social categorization processes that define roles within the organization are examined. This research suggests defensive bias and defensive mythology are expressions of interests and, as such, are evidence of the exercise of power and illustrate the context-transcending nature of power. Initiatives such as curriculum enactments are often under threat within school organizations due to these processes. Attenuating mythologies generated by low-status members of the organization persist well after leaders leave their roles within the organization and become a meaningful narrative that is difficult, if not impossible, to debunk.

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