Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Creative Educational Leadership: A Practical Guide to Leadership as Creativity
reviewed by Thomas P. Johnson
Title: Creative Educational Leadership: A Practical Guide to Leadership as Creativity
Author(s): Jacquie Turnbull
Publisher: Continuum, New York
ISBN: 1441167749, Pages: 192, Year: 2012
Search for book at Amazon.com
The book is divided into two parts, one entitled “Tensions and Challenges”; and the second part entitled “The Practice: Inspire, Motivate, Grow.” The former sets the stage for analyzing educational systems, their work, their new technological challenges and their built in resistance to change. It then builds on this framework of societal pressure to keep, but also to change the way education has been organized. This in-fighting of keeping what now exists, but changing what now exists continues throughout the work. This first part of the text includes sections that unpack personal attitudes and influences that have affected the behaviors and attitudes of those who work in education, followed by three later sections that explore the purpose of education, Systems Theory, both classical linear and the “new normal’ of systems as an interaction of mission, people, resources, flexibility and creativity, the title of the text. This section completes itself with a very clear and appealing analysis of the kind of leadership that can properly be described as “Creative”, and that will be valued as the education systems become more adaptable to new social and technological realities.
This first section is replete with quotes and references from familiar researchers (Abraham Maslow, Peter Senge, Albert Bandura, Michael Fullan) and many others not familiar to this reviewer, but obviously known to the author. The quotes are thoughtfully arranged to punctuate the goal of the author, which is to make us aware of the subtle and not so subtle changes that education is going through.
The author wrote the book in Great Britain, so many of the quotes and references are from individuals whose works may not be well known to American readers of the text. The author writes: “There is a particular reason for structuring the book the way it is. The reason is I believe we need to understand where we are and where we have come from before we can appreciate what’s involved in getting where we need to be” (p. xv).
In establishing this atmosphere of reflection, the author has introduced what, during a first read appears to be an annoying section of interdicting distraction from the text, but as a reader begins to understand that the author is establishing awareness of the kinds of changes that education is experiencing, a reader must stop and reflect upon his/her own understanding of the text and its important points from his/her own experience base. These “Teaching Moments” are called “CREATIVE LEADERSHIP THINKING SPACE” and they challenge the reader to reflect on his/her professional history, attitude, learned behaviors, skills, experience and awareness of various organizational environments in education. Each contains a series of questions about the reader’s assumptions, attitudes, beliefs and inclinations about comparing what has just been read.
Part Two of the text shifts from a discussion of personal and organizational history to a recipe book for developing “Creative Leadership” behaviors. It emphasizes the difference between management and leadership; the vicissitudes of organizational cultures, and suggests, through several schemata that there is a programmable way to systematically gain entrance into the field of “Creative Leadership.”
The three part recipe is described as “Inspire, Motivate and Grow (IMG) and in turn ties them to three corresponding contextual labels of “Vision & Values (Inspire); Relationships (Motivate); and Personal Qualities (Grow). This section is a stand-alone section once the message of the first five chapters is understood. Students of human development will see familiar connections to these three components of Creative Leadership. The Vision and Values component is reflective of Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline; the Relationships component is reflective of the work of Peter Drucker and David McLelland; The Personal Qualities component is reflective of the work of Donald Shoen’s “The Reflective Practitioner and Chris Argyris’ Theory in Practice.
This text is organized as a combination of two interactive components of behavioral change. There are very few theories of adult un-learning, but this text lays out a staccato framework of bite sized information about organizations, change, resistance to change and couples it as the text reveals the complexity of change with a formula for personal change that is not dogmatic, but suggested. It is an adult learning model. It, in my opinion, could be a substantial portion of a leadership program at a university that becomes a bible of sorts about what personal change looks like (from text based discussions) and what change feels like as recorded by the student in journals and portfolios during internships or in actual leadership roles.
The strength of this text is that it is not directed at administrators, though they could certainly benefit from its messages, but to teachers, who lead their students through the labyrinth of schedules, classes, subjects and values each day.
This is a very well done book. It can be used as a text for educators at all levels.
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