‘Leadership for the Schoolhouse: how is it Different: Why is it different’ is an interesting book by Thomas J. Sergiovanni that provides the school with ways of expanding and improving academics. The author differentiates between the comparison of school organizations and comparing schools to organizations. According to Sergiovanni, a schoolhouse is supposed to function in a way that distinguishes it from normal institutions. He points out that most organizations do not give employees a chance to develop moral virtues and grow in their careers. He suggests that teachers, parents, students and the administration should develop interest in promoting an educational environment that stresses the significance of shared values. It is through shared values that a community grows morally.
In addition, Sergiovanni highlights the importance of small schools which are instrumental in educating the society on the most important virtues. The character of the teacher and how this influences the learners is also mentioned in the book. The totality of the concepts and ideas presented in the book underscore the importance of establishing a schoolhouse. Sergovanni presents ideas and concepts that are important in promoting education that guarantees personal, professional and academic success. It is a useful book that presents thought-provoking ideas that can assist in the growth of a promising school environment.
Chapter 1 (What We Have, What We Need)
In this chapter, Sergiovanni focuses on the different leadership theories among them the pyramid, Railroad and high-performance theories. The high performance theory is the common theory used by schools to introduce critical reforms. The theories are relevant in a school environment since the primary goal of schools is to produce moral, educated and interconnected citizens and communities. Sergiovanni manages to combine all the theories in expressing a common idea. It is quite obvious that the establishment of a conducive school environment requires numerous changes.
However, some people are always reluctant to embrace changes since they hold on to their traditional set ups but it is important to consider the impact of the changes on the learners. After role, the ideas behind coming up with institutions like schools are to assist students realize their goals in life and exploit their potentials to the maximum. It is important for people to realize that change is inevitable especially in education where new concepts and learner needs emerge continually. Retaining the conventional learning methods is not wrong but changes are advisable especially when they are aimed at improving the quality of education students receive (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Chapter 2: A Theory for the Schoolhouse
In the second chapter, Sergiovanni proposes a set of rules for developing theory in the schoolhouse. He emphasizes that developing a theory is a technical aspect of education that should be approached carefully with guiding standards. To begin with, the theory and the language used in its development should very clear and appealing. Secondly, it should have moral connections, cultural norms, internal considerations and be of interest to the community. Thirdly, theories should reflect constructivist learning principles of the institutions, curriculum and classroom activities. Fourthly, theories should consider the capacity of the teachers to solve problems and promote good quality education. Finally, theories should be able to bring together administrators, faculties, parents and students to work towards self-management and individual responsibility. Sergiovanni presents essential and just guidelines on how to develop theory in a schoolhouse. A theory should not be inclined towards one side but incorporates all members of an institution. The contribution of every member in the organization is critical hence the need to ensure that favoritism does not exist (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Chapter 3: Establishing a Moral Vice
Sergiovanni prioritizes this issue since it is in most cases ignored by curriculum developers. The book lays emphasis on the importance of developing morals since they form the basis of success. Sergiovanni believes that leading a school in the right way can actually transform the community into a morally upright one. If people disregard the value of morals in education, this will have the impact of affecting the quality of education negatively. A poor education system will eventually lead to a society that is devoid of moral values. Leadership is very critical since a good leader can make a difference with regard to the quality of education provided to students. Curriculum development alone is not enough to guarantee quality education. In addition, good leadership builds stronger ties, effective interactions among students, well set out pedagogy and a meaningful schooling experience. If a leader has the ability to work well with the rest of the members, this leads to better and satisfactory results (Sergiovanni, 2000).
For example, school owners who only consider their school as a business enterprise cannot lead the school as effective as those who have teaching background. Individuals with a teaching background are passionate about education and understand the needs of the leaners, the feelings of other teachers and are generally concerned about the welfare of every member. If a leader is able to identify the needs of all the members of the institution, this guarantees an upright nature of the institution.
Chapter 4: Understanding and Building Community in School
Throughout this book, Sergiovanni stresses the importance of good leadership as an important tool of enhancing a strong foundation of a school community. It might not always be possible to build an excellent school community especially in situations where there is diversity with different groups adhering to different norms and practices. However, good leadership has the capacity to neutralize the differences. The most important thing is how a leader handles the diverse characteristics and traits that define different individuals. A school that manages to build a good community gives the students a chance of becoming good leaders themselves. It is important to note that the character of students is traceable not only to the families they come from but also the communities they grow in.
The kind of leadership required in education is different from the one required in fields such as engineering. For instance, engineering involves laying down a plan that is followed by every body while the leader is not always required. Contrary to what happens in an educational institution, it is not possible for a leader to present rules to be followed by other teachers since the interpretation of the rules might not be the right one. However, a leader who is actively involved in the undertakings of a school is able to monitor what happens, address the needs of individual members and become active contributors in the running of the institution. The community grows morally by knowing that their roles are valued by their leaders (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Chapter 5: The Roots of School Leadership
In this chapter, Sergiovanni continues to differentiate leadership in a school set up from leadership exercised in fields such as engineering. While engineering may be applied to organizations, it can result into calculated ties among people. Schools are different from corporations in that they exhibit different structures and character. A school is supposed to mould students to become good leaders in the society and this is only possible if the school leaders set a good example. The roots of school leadership can be traced to the types of communities the leaders grow up in. it is important to focus on how every community member participates in promoting a good school environment for students which in turn produces responsible individuals in the society.
Chapter 6: The Case for Smaller Schools
In this chapter, Sergiovanni talks about the conditions that prevail in small schools. Nowadays, schools have emerged whose focus is not providing quality education to the students. There most important mission is to benefit financially from the schools. Such people take advantage of schools and initiate their own strategies of making money. In such scenarios when schools are turned into business enterprises, the rationale behind starting schools which is to produce students who can be relied on in the society is destroyed. Business people focus on how they can attract more customers into their businesses and build a strong market and in this case, there tactics involve employing teachers who are not qualified to teach in the schools. For example, some owners of schools hire foreign teachers to teach English language yet they not have proficiency in the language (Sergiovanni, 2000).
By doing this the students are usually the greatest losers. It is important for small schools to think of establishing communities within their schools. This is because even small schools can be instrumental in shaping students into becoming good leaders. They should not leave the task only to big schools. As a matter of fact, small schools have good chances than big schools since they are able to control their population and monitor it closely. This is not usually the case in big schools where the number of students is big and difficult to control.
Chapter 7: Doing What’s Best for Students
The main objective of every institution is to produce students who can become important leaders in the society. Sergiovanni outlines some ways through which students can become successful leaders. To begin with, teachers should be aware of the needs of the students in terms of learning style, diverse character traits and different cultures. Teachers should acknowledge individual differences and treat each student as a unique person. However, this is not common in traditional school settings which hold the belief that students are similar. As a result, teachers give activities and assignments and expect all the learners to experience the same level of difficulty in completing the assignments. The reality is that some students complete the work with ease while others find it difficult to complete the assignments. This prevents students from succeeding because their talents are not reinforced. The situation becomes worse when teachers label the students as slow or poor learners.
Sergiovanni advises teachers to maximize the learning opportunities of students in order to assist them achieve their goals. He introduces the constructivist principle which may be used to transform the teaching approaches used by teachers. The problem arises only when the teachers know what they are supposed to do to assist the learners but are reluctant to implement what they know for unknown reasons (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Chapter 8: Teacher Development and School as Centers of Inquiry
In this chapter, Sergiovanni elaborates the constructivist principle mentioned in the previous chapter. He provides more options for teachers on how they can assist the learners to achieve their goals. It is important for schools and teachers in particular to know the importance of individualizing teaching and learning. Teachers can look for ways of individualizing their lessons especially when they handle many classes. Sergiovanni also highlights the importance of connecting learning with the outside world and establishing social norms that concentrate on respect for others and sharing of ideas. In some schools, students are prepared for the outside world through the knowledge imparted on them in class.
However, this is not carried on for long once the students are out of school. Imparting them with relevant knowledge though enables the students to cope and survive better when faced with challenges unlike those who are not trained on how to connect with the outside world once they leave school. Academic performance is critical but this alone does not guarantee a good life outside. There are many students who excel in class work but fail to succeed once they leave school because they lack the necessary skills. Sergiovanni manages to convey the message that it is not enough to be good in class to succeed in the outside life (Sergiovanni, 2000).
Chapter 9: A New Theory of Change
In this chapter, the author tackles the major misconceptions on leadership theories. He believes that some schools do not put enough effort to adopt new theories that have been proved to be effective in teaching. In addition, he points out that some teachers detest the new theories because of the additional work that they may be required to do while in some other schools, the theories are believed to introduce anti-educational practices. Sergiovanni believes that schools will be able to change if they are norm-based as opposed to being rule-based. Rule –based schools tend to modify change strategies, something that may be easy for the teacher but complex for the entire community. On the other hand, norm-based schools change with culture through socialization, shared values and the expected teacher behavior.
It is important to note that when new theories are introduced, not many people are ready to accept them. Some harbor their reservations while others accept. However, everybody is bound to benefit in the end as long as the objectives are derived and applied (Sergiovanni, 2000). It is only after teachers see the benefits of the change initiatives that they realize the value of change. Sergiovanni puts his ideas about change in a rather complex manner but his message that change is important in schools is nevertheless admissible.
Chapter 10: The Politics of Virtue. A New Compact
Sergiovanni manages to communicate his message very effectively in this chapter. It is true that politics are everywhere including schools. However, the politics that exist in a school environment are different. The issue of politics in schools is a sensitive one that should not be underestimated because schools are responsible for training future leaders. In the event that the learners are not equipped with sound moral values on how to be become good leaders, they will contaminate the society because they will practice their own leadership styles that lack dignity and moral values. However, when students are molded during their formative years in school, they are given a strong foundation that lasts for a long period of time and is passed to generations. It is therefore important for all schools to give learners strong foundations.
The dedication of teachers is very important in providing good education. Quality education does not only depend on the curriculum or the school but also depends on how teachers apply their knowledge to the learners. If teachers manage their classes well with the support of other members of the institution, they shape the students into responsible and reliable individuals. This is reflected in how the students manage their own lives after leaving school (Strike, 2007).
Virtues can be learnt from the school if students are provided with good and healthy environments where they can learn, share and develop self-confidence and learn how to express themselves fearlessly. Sergiovanni describes in detail how the school can develop good qualities in learners and assist them to become responsible people after school.
The book ‘Leadership for the School house’ is definitely a good book that promotes wisdom for leadership especially in terms of school change. Contrary to the organizational approaches that concentrate on impersonal concepts like the competitiveness and the standardized effects, the author provides an approach based on democracy and communication values. He definitely gives a good idea to many educators and school administrators on how to facilitate change in the school. His intention is to encourage schools and teachers in particular to work hard towards producing students who are morally upright and inquisitive. This is very vital in the school leadership because many people pay little attention to the issue of school leadership. Ironically, they expect students to come out of school with sound ideas and personalities least do they know that academics is not enough to shape students into good leaders once they leave school. There is often a lot to be done for the students before they leave school but this is often ignored.
The book is an important piece of work that should be read by everybody who has interest in the education field. This is because it is full of insightful ideas that can help educators enforce the true purpose of education. Unlike many other books that give empty explanations of theories, this book promotes good values and gives reasons why the values are so important in the lives of the learners. It is a misconstrued belief among many people that leaders are born rather than made. However, Sergovanni proves that through proper education and a conducive learning environment, students can be taught leadership. They must be given a chance to discover their potentials and utilize them. It is also important to allow them to build on their potentials while still in school for them to gain enough confidence to face the world once they leave school. Many cases have been recorded of people who fail to realize their potentials in life because they were never given an opportunity when they were in school. The book therefore stresses the importance of giving learners a chance to realize and build on their potentials while still in school.
Sergiovanni, T. J (2000)..Leadership for the Schoolhouse. How is it Different? Why is it Important?. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Company.
Strike, K. (2007). Ethical Leadership in Schools. New York: Corwin Press.