Educational Leadership: Perspectives on Preparation and Practice
Date Reviewed: December 1, 2015
National and global cultural constructs are changing faster than ever, oftentimes faster than those who educate can keep apace of. The challenge presented in this volume is clearly stated in Haynes’s introduction: Education leaders “must accept responsibility for accessing and mobilizing all available resources to support students’ total development and for demonstrating that they are making a significant and measurable positive difference in turning present educational trends around” (viii). A popular mantra of leadership theory as first proposed by James McGregor Burns, John Maxwell, and Max De Pree, and later repopularized by Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Chip and Dan Heath, and Michael Hyatt, is that leaders are responsible for creating organizational culture. Therefore it is imperative that educators, both those who are currently in leadership positions (discipline chairs, principals, superintendents, school board representatives, and so forth) and those who aspire to leadership positions, take seriously this challenge of creating a culture for effective learning by demonstrating that they are effective leaders and worthy of being followed.
Following the challenge-laden Introduction, the volume is divided into three sections, with each section focusing on a different aspect of educational leader development. Each section opens with a short introduction from one of the editors. The first section (chapters 1 to 4) focuses on “core knowledge” elements for teachers and educational leaders, such as public policy (chapter 1), Knowles’ theory of self-directed andragogy (chapter 2), Goleman’s theory of emotional intelligence (chapter 3), and education as social justice (chapter 4). The second section (chapters 5 to 9) focuses on professional development for educational leaders, such as developing an ecological framework for the educational setting (chapter 5), leading educational reform (chapter 6 and 8), developing a global perspective on education (chapter 7), and seeking continuing education once on the field (chapter 9). The final section (chapters 10 to 14) suggests strategies for improving the learning experience, such as utilizing applied research (chapter 10) and program evaluation (chapter 11), developing a multicultural approach to learning (chapter 12), and implementing balanced curriculum (chapter 13) and technology (chapter 14) into the teaching model.
This volume would be most applicable to a course in educational leadership development. It certainly draws from the wealth of the experience provided by the contributors. It is most appropriate for elementary and secondary educators and educational leaders (and those who instruct in that field). However it does have value for those who teach in other disciplines at the undergraduate or graduate level. I found the chapters on policy and balanced curriculum to be most helpful. There are a couple of concerns that should be noted: First, while it is subtle, there is a tinge of socialist rhetoric used throughout the volume. It is most prominent in chapter 4 where the co-authors equate social justice with socialist reform. Second, there is a sense of almost blind acceptance, despite the growing amount of evidence-based literature to the contrary, of Common Core standards throughout the book. Both of these concerns go hand-in-hand and should be considered by the prospective reader.