Occasionally a book comes along that addresses the educational system in a manner that both challenges the preconceptions of professional educators and engages various consumers of education—primarily parents. Authentic Educational Leadership in Schools, written by Australian educator and author Ross H. Millikan, is such a book. Engagingly written, beautifully structured, and theoretically challenging, it is simply one of the best books on the subject of education available.
Milliken admits in his abstract that he sees this book primarily as a textbook; certainly the length of the book (600+ pages) and his detailed, topical structure bear this out. But this is no run-of-the-mill, dismally written text. Rather, it is a clarion call for a new type of educational leadership in our schools, one that “involves enabling others to enact their strengths and abilities for their own and other’s intellectual and inter-personal development.”
By basing his book on an analysis of educational leadership, rather than on the venerable problem-solving or case study methods, Millikan has taken the argument to a new, more useful plane. Not only does he discuss how his Authentic Leader would deal with a number of practical problems within schools themselves (“Constraints”), but he also explores the philosophical, moral, and visionary problems that will face his leader. This section –the heart of this book—is accurately subtitled “Provocations,” as Millikan plays with readers’ minds, inviting them to think about a host of issues from the point of view of an enlightened leader. Along the way he is remarkably non-judgmental, well researched, and always quotable.
One might fault Millikan for choosing not to index this lengthy book. But this may well be a blessing in disguise; it will serve as an invitation to actually read, rather than use this wonderful book. Don’t let the textbook-appearance dissuade you; this is a powerful read both for educational specialists and parents. From start to finish, it will engage. This reader simply could not put it down.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.