Monday, January 10, 2011

Twitter Book Club: Thomss J. Sergiovanni (1992) Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement - Ch 1

Reinventing Leadership

Back in October, at the height of the Waiting for Superman/MSNBC Education Nation/Oprah fiasco I posed a question to people in my personal learning network, "What three books would you require all people involved in education reform to read." I got a wide variety of fantastic responses. I ended up ordering a lot of these books and have steadily making my way through the ones I had not yet read. This book was recommended by Chris Lehmann and is one of the few I ordered based on only one recommendation. I have to say that this book drove me a little bit crazy. Sergiovanni succinctly categorizes and describes the core qualities of all forms of leadership and while he draws a blueprint for for more authentic and effective leadership rooted in values and stewardship he also draws the curtain on the practices of school administrators that largely rule the roost in U. S. schools. Being an art teacher for eleven years and a technology integration specialist/edtech consultant for four, and having worked in many schools through turbulent periods of restructuring I have seen, and been directly impacted by, every form of leadership described in this book. It explains so much of what has happened in so many professional situations I have either witnessed or been involved with that have gone a-rye.

"I believe there are two reasons for the failure of leadership. First, we have come to view leadership as behavior ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

I would like to focus on the last part of that quote, "we have overemphasized bureaucratic, psychological, and technical-rational authority, seriously neglecting professional and moral authority." When I read this I kept thinking about that phrase repeated throughout the film Ratatouille, "Anyone Can Cook."

Leadership can come from anywhere in an organization or school. It can come from teachers, secretaries, students, custodial staff, or administration. Problem is, our current conception of the roles people are supposed to assume in schools is that administration=leadership. This is a dangerous notion and one which leads us to play a game of Chinese handcuffs and puts the whole enterprise of education on a downward spiral. By elevating these three sources of leadership we have degraded our profession and forced teaching into a subordinate role rather than a profession which leads to standardized curriculum, scripted teaching, and stagnation. We no longer take action because we can't and by placing such emphasis on these three sources we have driven some of our strongest teachers out of the profession.

"The result [of the management mystique] is an emphasis on doing things right, at the expense of doing the right th... than a minute ago via Twittelator

@anderscj Re: (Doing things right vs. doing the right thing), see also via @vivmcwless than a minute ago via web

"When policies and practices are based on the managerial mystique, there is a tendency to focus knowledge, attentio... than a minute ago via Twittelator

I have worked in many schools where established norms have made stepping outside one's role not only frowned upon but considered an infringement. This, I fear, is more often than not the rule rather than the exception. I have even found myself overwhelmed with fear of doing the right thing at times because I was afraid of stepping outside my role to get it done. Only in two schools and only with two different school administrators did I feel empowered to take this kind of action without fear of some kind of disciplinary action. When we let "It's not my place," or "It's not in my job description," kind of statements rule our action we become less responsive to the needs of those we work with.

"truth for each of us is a function of how we see and describe the world—in other words, of our mindscapes." Thomss J. Sergiovanniless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"what each principal chooses to do is a function of the heart and the head, and the substance of these is a questio... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"What results from not giving equal attention to all modes [of knowing] is an impoverished managerial theory and a ... than a minute ago via Twittelator

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