Becoming a Transformative Leader
A Guide to Creating Equitable Schools
Book Review by Murray Fletcher
Shields, Carolyn M. (2019) Becoming a Transformative Leader: A Guide to Creating Equitable Schools, Taylor & Francis Group
Carolyn Shields focused on transformative leadership in Transformative Leadership In Education (2012) and in the second edition published in 2018; both with a focus on ‘equitable and socially just change in an uncertain and complex world.’
Now Carolyn has continued the conversation by shifting the focus on becoming a transformative leader by writing (with a chapter by a voice from the field), a guide to creating equitable schools. This conversation is about the application in context of the notion of equity in schools and centres. It is a resource book that provides access to online scaffolds to take the conceptual ideas into practice by showing leaders what is possible with this focus, if one is courageous. Carolyn’s is one of a deep experiential perspective ‘illustrated’ by the lived experience of a first-time school principal.
The focus here is on creating learning environments through conditions that promote inclusiveness, respectfulness and equity, by shifting knowledge frameworks to ensure equity. The questions of whose knowledge is given prominence and what constitutes knowledge in a changing and complex world, are tackled. With the focus on learner agency and on redefining curriculum ‘prescriptions’ gaining both traction and importance, the notion of transformation is proffered. This goes beyond mere sustaining what we have already and shifting towards a new way of connecting and creating ownership in learning.
Carolyn promotes eight tenets in her writing and these focus on leaders exhibiting moral courage in order to have the conversation about accepting the mandate for equitable change, about redistributing power, balancing the public and private good, focusing on democracy and emancipation, balancing critique and promise with increasing connectedness, interdependence, and global Awareness.
This is a conversation we should be, and are having in Aotearoa/New Zealand at this time.