How is leadership depicted in children’s books? Analysis of A Fine, Fine, School By Sharon Screech Pictures by Harry Bliss 1 . Give overview and summarize book explaining how leadership or follower ship is displayed in the book. A Fine, Fine, School is the story of Mr.. Keen, a gung ho principal any school would be lucky to have. This exuberant administrator loves his school so much he wants more and more school: first on Saturdays, then on Sundays, then on holidays, then in the summer. The students and teachers do not want to go to school on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or in the summer, but no one knows owe to tell Mr..
Keen that. He is so proud of the students and the teachers. This is also the story of Tillie, a young girl who attends this fine, fine, school. It is up to Tillie to show Mr.. Keen that even though this school is a fine one, it is not fine to be there all the time. This book displays leadership and follower ship in many different ways. As you read the first pages of this book one could say that this school is a “healthy school – one characterized by student, teacher and principal behavior that is harmonious and works toward instructional success. (Lundeberg & Orenstein, 2004, 99) Every morning Mr.. Keen strolled down the hallway and saw children in their classes. He saw what they were learning and he would always say, “Aren’t these fine children? ” Aren’t these fine teachers? Isn’t this a fine, fine, school? ” Mr.. Keen being the leader of this school makes a point of being actively involved in visiting classes and complimenting the excellent job the students and teachers are doing in this learning environment. Mr.. Keen adores education and is so proud of his students and teachers he wants the children to learn even more.
He gathers all the students and teachers to communicate his new idea that since his is such a fine, fine, school, “lets have school on Saturdays, too”! The teachers and students didn’t want to go to school on Saturdays but they did not say anything to Mr.. Keen. “Through effective communication, relationships are built, trust is established, and respect is gained” (Green, 2005, 85) I guess Mr.. Keen had all of this since nobody groaned, moaned or spoke up. Neither students nor teachers wanted to go to school on Saturdays but they trusted and respected their leader. A month went by and Mr..
Keen thought everything was fine and decided to have school on Sundays. Another month went by and Mr.. Keen decided to have school on holidays. Still nobody spoke in animosity toward the new school days. Mr.. Keen was so myopic in his thinking and planning that he decided the more school the better so he told everyone there would be school in the summer. As the principal of a school, Mr.. Keen, approached his decision-making using the “Garbage Can Model, which allows individuals to act without thinking through an issue. ” (Green, 2005, 126) Mr.. Keen did not take into account all stakeholders before making such a major decision.
Mr.. Keen was autocratic in his decision. However, without any rebuttal, his followers accepted his new decision to go to school everyday. Obviously, the students and teachers admire, trusted, and respected Mr.. Keen. The style in which the author wrote the book made it seem like they weren’t afraid of him they just didn’t want to hurt his feelings. The author demonstrates this throughout the book by repeating the same line after Mr.. Keen adds more and more days – “The teachers and students did not want to go to school. But no one knew how to tell Mr.. Keen that. He was so proud of the children and teachers. (Screech, 2001, 16) In entrants, while communicating a change that affects all stakeholders, Mr.. Keen doesn’t observe the gasps and grimaces of his stressed out students and teachers. Mr.. Keen fails as a leader to look for the non-verbal clues that his students and teachers were giving him. Good leaders while communicating will pay attention to its’ audience and the use of the non-verbal communications being transmitted throughout the communication. The story ends when Tillie the little girl who is suppose to teach her dog how to sit and her little brother how to swing and skip, politely tells Mr..
Keen that “not everyone is learning. ” (Screech, 2001, 18) Mr.. Keen wanted to know who isn’t learning and Tillie told him. That same day Mr.. Keen walked up and down the halls, looking at the children and the teachers. He finally notices that his dramatic measure diminishes the quality of life in his school. Tillie becomes a leader. She shows Mr.. Keen that learning doesn’t only happen in school it happens everywhere! 2. Explain why you chose this book and why you think it is a positive or negative display of leadership for children. It took 20 books to choose this book.
I asked my principal, my librarian, another ironical, and colleagues to give me titles of books. After reading all 20 books I decided this was a great book. I liked this book best because the way the author portrays the school, the principal and for the colorful illustrations. The author styles the principal as proud of his scholars and staff but shows how his autocratic decision diminishes the quality of the school. I loved the colorful illustrations, the clever book titles and expressions on the students faces all showing how one bad decision turns a wonderful “family cultured school” to a “machine cultured school. Lundeberg & Orenstein, 2004, 96) I think this book has both a positive display of leadership and a negative display of leadership. Throughout the book the principal commented, “Aren’t these fine children? Aren’t these fine teachers? Isn’t this a fine, fine, school? ” (Screech, 2001) He was proud of his teachers and students but overlooked how stressed they were because he never communicated his vision – to have the students learn as much as they could. He negatively affected all the stakeholders by not including them in his vision or decision to make such a dramatic change. Change is a recess, not an event the change process can be viewed in three steps: (a) establishing a vision, (b) determining the state of existing programs, and (c ) determining what is needed to reach the desired vision. ” (Green, 2005, 207) Mr.. Keen did not take any of these steps to ensure a smooth transition to a change such as this. Did Mr.. Keen ask himself if this is such a fine, fine, school why do I need to change an existing program that is working so well? Mr..
Keen implemented a “discontinuous, or second-order change, the equilibrium of the system is disrupted as the fundamental properties of the yester are changed. This type of change has proven to be very challenging in schools and is a major producer of resistance and conflict. (Green, 2005, 183) On the other hand, his teachers and students didn’t resist it they followed his leadership and went on doing what they were told to do – even though they were not happy. Clearly, Mr..
Keen is respected, admired, and is considered a good leader because his followers chose to follow him without any resistance. Even though Mr.. Keen used an autocratic leader style and the garbage can model for decision-making, this book had a positive display of leadership for hillier because in the end he actively listened to Tillie explain why his change was so wrong. I think this lets children know that even though the principal has the right to change and implement school procedures that their ideas and opinions are listened to and that they can help make a difference in their school.
Mr.. Keener’s biggest mistake as a leader was not collaborating with the stakeholders while implementing such a major change. This in itself does not make him a bad leader. Hopefully, he learned and all others that read this book learn how important it is to collaborate with all stakeholders and to listen actively hen making decisions and changes especially when it affects all stakeholders. 3. Explain how the book may advance a gender, racial or ethnic perspective in regard to leadership. This book advanced the female perspective in regard to leadership.
Mr.. Keen was a male principal who loved his school and thought very highly of his students and teachers. However, it took a young female to open his eyes and see that learning doesn’t only happen in school it happens everywhere. This young lady took on a leadership role by speaking up for the students and teachers since they didn’t know how to tell Mr.. Keen they didn’t want to go to school In today’s society more women are becoming strong leaders – Opera, Loretta Scott King, Hillary Clinton and many more school administrators are women.
This book gives young girls inspiration to stand up for what they believe in and to be able to have their voice heard. 4. Explain how the book displays a school of management/leadership philosophy based on a: classical model of leadership, behavioral model of leadership or contingency model of leadership. The book displays a behavioral model of leadership. I believe Mr.. Keen was autocratic in his decision to make such a major change without any input from the students and teachers.
However, the school culture and climate in the beginning of the story created a very people-oriented learning community. His willingness to listen to Tillie and to change back because he made a mistake about having school everyday shows that he put the needs of the students and teachers first. He followed Mason’s need hierarchy which suggests “an administrator’s job is to provide avenues for the satisfaction of employee’s needs that also support organizational goals and to remove impediments that block need satisfaction ND cause frustration, negative attitudes, or dysfunctional behavior.