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Educational Agency. A view in process.

Agency involved action, free will, reflexive and is entwined with context. It is linked to identity.

Being a collaborative musician (that is being in a band) involves action, free will, it is reflexive and it is entwined with context. How a musician acts during a band session is linked to their identity.

A leader will emerge, but each member of the band is responsible for their instrument, or department.

As I am studying for a Masters degree in education I am confronted with the requirement to understand agency. At the start of this journey agency was the place where you booked someone to represent you, musically, to get you work and ensured you got paid for doing what you love. This is a different type of agency, a concept used in social science to understand why people behave in certain ways. I am finding it has a multitude of meanings and as in music composition there is no single correct answer. Likewise justification of theory and concepts (or theory and musical ideas) is a requirement.

Agency, in relation to education, is something that is achieved, rather than something that is owned. According to Mark Priestly et al in Teacher agency: What is it and why does it matter, tt is a quality between participants with influences from the past, orientations to the future and engagement with the present on page 3 of article 1 listed below. These three sections are referred to in the paper as

  • iterational - The process of repeating something (ie from the past)

  • projective - The process of transferring an idea or concept (ie to the future)

  • practical-evaluative - The evaluation of an action (ie in the present)

Emirbayer and Mische in What Is Agency? call this the chordal triad of agency on page 9 of the article.

John MacBeath in Leadership as distributed: a matter of practice states the following as hallmarks of a sense agency. These factors exist in powerful reciprocal relationships.

respect, listening to and valuing the views of others
personal regard, intimate and sustained personal relationships that undergird professional relationships
competence, the capacity to produce desired results in relationships with others
personal integrity, truthfulness and honesty in relationships.

Looking at agency in different situations and the meaning of agency will help me understand different ways of effectively managing the Academy and all the Academies that I see coming from this small seed in Stalybridge. This is the start of a study for a Masters Degree in Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change. (EE811). I hope to be adding more to it as my understanding grows.

3) John MacBeath (2005) Leadership as distributed: a matter of practice, School Leadership & Management, 25:4, 349-366, DOI: 10.1080/13634230500197165 page 19


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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