Educational Leadership and Leadership Education in Asia
Author: Jamaliah Abdul-Hamid and Narcisa Paredes-Canilao
Reviewer: Gerson Abesamis
I had this book for a good 3 months, reading and re-reading select articles based on how relevant they were to my current project at the time: designing curriculum, consulting with schools on organizational strategy, teaching design research to college students. It served as an excellent reference as most of the papers are based on practice—actual interventions that are well-documented and clarified with evidence. Definitely not the type of book that you finish in one sitting, but one that you keep in the bookshelf near your desk that you can come back to and browse regularly. Recommending this for school leaders who are looking for new perspectives in addressing their problems, or researchers who are exploring methods to study and gather evidence in educational leadership. It poses questions that should be discussed with colleagues, given the looming ASEAN integration, internationalization, and education reform in both basic education (K to 12) and higher education (Outcomes-based Education and the Philippine Qualifications Framework). Three points that I found worth noting about the book:
1. It’s an important collection of Asian perspectives on educational leadership, one that fills the gap in knowledge and challenges Western ideas that pervade the current available literature. There are articles that highlight Asian practices of leadership (particularly those on Part III and IV), while some contrasted experiences of Asian institutions with commonly-used leadership frameworks from the West. I found it refreshing.
2. The articles set interesting contexts of different Asian countries, not just of their education and leadership systems but the array of cultural and political forces that influence their challenges. It provides a nuanced view of the region, which many mistakenly compound into a single homogeneous Asian identity. Not to say that there aren’t anything to learn from the diverse experiences of other countries though; reading the book also presents universal issues that many Asian neighbors have. Universal tensions featured in the book that inspire debate and conversations: centralized administration vs. school-based decentralized leadership, collaborative leadership vs. competition, relational vs. process-oriented leadership.
3. I like how the articles commonly push for an update of our commonly-held definitions of leadership, veering away from the idea of managing or administering educational systems. Sustainability, innovation, ethics, and data-driven practices are key ideas that are given the same significance such as efficiency, achievement, school targets. The book pushes for a more dynamic idea of leadership, one that demands educational institutions and governments to adapt to changes brought on by technology and globalization. Most importantly, these buzzwords are presented as real, well-documented cases of Asian educational institutions. Useful and straightforward for those who are researching on leadership strategies to further research on and implement.