Book Review                                              Page 40


Taking Charge 

Leading With Passion and Purpose in the Principalship   

Book Taking Charge

by Paul L. Shaw, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2012, 228 pp., $29.95, softcover

Paul Shaw was one of the principals who inspired Michael Fullan’s What’s Worth Fighting for in the Principalship. After reading Shaw’s book Taking Charge: Leading with Passion and Purpose in the Principalship, it’s easy to see why Fullan found him so inspirational.

Now a professor of education at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Shaw lays down the foundation for what schools need to be led with “passion and purpose.” He believes there must be a morally compelling purpose and a participatory workplace culture before true change can occur.

His work as a principal and as an overseer and analyst of the work of principals puts him in classrooms interacting directly with students and teachers. His writing aligns with his belief that the first “pillar of continuous improvement” is to get to “know the student well through sustained relationship and evidence gathering.”

Shaw calls for a new Hippocratic Oath that would state “educators have an ethical duty to improve the life chances of all and to take or support no action that may be construed as hurting those chances.” If that means a principal and teacher should challenge government-imposed high-stakes testing or rigid adherence to pacing guides based on fixed standards, then the principal and teacher should place the needs of the student first.

The author provides many examples of schools and principals who effectively, or not so effectively, live up to his high standards for purposeful and practical approaches to build school cultures that empower educators and students. You know Fullan wouldn’t support Shaw if he didn’t build from a strong research-based core, but Shaw provides memorable examples and meaningful charts and graphics that bring the theoretical concepts down to very pragmatic levels that could be applied at the classroom, school or district level.

Taking Charge is not for the educator who fears making some waves, but it is empowering and will help strong educators channel their passions in productive and purposeful directions.

Reviewed by Bob Schultz, instructor in teacher credential and administrative master’s programs, Brandman University, Roseville, Calif.


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