("administration + miniature + library")
The Adminibrary ("administration + miniature + library") is an ongoing interventionist art piece that draws on an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) theoretical research perspective to bring educational administrative theory into the university where administration is practiced. Interventionist art is defined by Kramer (2006) as "a chance encounter...art that takes place outside an expected place and time, that melds easily with activism to take on the role of communicating a message in a unique, noticeable way" (p. 122). Therefore, as a creative means to achieve this project's objectives, I decided to create a minimalist postcard that would communicate the purpose of the Adminibrary in a distinguishing way. Anyone who picks it up is encouraged to borrow any of the materials in the library and/or fill out the back of the postcard with their own book or article recommendations. Readers are also directed to this blog where they can submit recommendations online (see form below). Because of its unique name, the Adminibrary has been successful at drawing the interest of my co-workers to the bookshelf and sparking spontaneous discussions around why I started this project, the applicability of arts-based research methods to the field of educational administration and leadership, and what is working well in our practices as administrators.
It's important to note that I felt a tremendous responsibility during this process of creating the Adminibrary to make something that would be a useful contribution to the field of educational administration. This sense of responsibility comes from reviewing the literature and learning about how scholars have struggled to establish this field as a rational, legitimate, and worthwhile discipline (Bates, 1982; Foster, 1980). Hallinger and Heck (2005) note that there is little cohesion among academics in terms of theoretical approaches, concluding that the "field has been long on intellectual critique, but short on sustained action and demonstrated results" (p. 239). Theorists are divided on important issues and methodologies, and practitioners operate with no universal set of moral guiding principles that require them to exemplify the virtues of knowledge and rationality in the institutions in which they serve (Greenfield, 1979, p. 108). With so few examples of demonstrated action, new methodologies need to be explored.
This project has three objectives:
1. To SHARE educational administration books and articles with practicing administrators to bring awareness to administrative theory in a place where administration is practiced.
2. To SPARK spontaneous conversations with other educational administrators that allow them to reflect on what they are doing right in their practice.
3. To CREATE a space in which to imagine new possibilities for the future of the field of educational administration and leadership.
The Adminibrary brings administrative theory to the site of administrative praxis. By sharing administrative books and articles in the university, administrators will be more aware of the administrative literature, from classic readings to more contemporary studies that explore creative solutions to some of the field's challenges. By sparking impromptu discussions with my co-workers, the Adminibrary allows administrators to reflect on what is currently working in their practices. Encouraging administrators to talk about what is working - rather than focusing on what challenges might exist - has been shown to strengthen administrator's potential to create positive change in schools. Carr-Stewart and Walker (2004) make a significant observation about the AI approach and suggest that it "affirms that people co-create and co-commission meaning together and that meaning and actions are co-mingled" (p. 10). This observation is particularly relevant to the Adminibrary because it is co-created with the people that interact with it, and is therefore constantly changing and being re-defined. Lastly, the Adminibrary creates a space that imagines new possibilities for the future of this field. Only by imagining creative solutions can we move the field of educational administration and leadership in new directions.
In her chapter on interventionist art, Kramer (2006) acknowledges that "interventionist art projects are usually considered complete only upon the discover of, or audience interaction with, this project" (p. 129). Though I hope that administrators and other educational stakeholders interact with the books and articles in the Adminibrary so I can feel this project has "completed" its purpose, I plan on continuing the Adminibrary to see how it evolves over time.