Louis Wildman approaches educational administration from a liberal arts perspective, teaching administrative candidates to apply that tradition to their own lives. Just as he is against waste in natural resources, he is also against waste in human resources and conceives of education as the process of developing human resources. With personnel selection, he encourages school districts to, of course, hire competent employees, but also consider vacancies as opportunities to provide talented professionals with employment wherein, through their work, they can pursue their interests and utilize their abilities and creativity. He reminds his students that throughout the history of education there have always been two sides to the curriculum—one in which we want to pass on to the next generation what we have learned (now often codified as standards), and the other side in which we help students follow their interests, coach them to investigate, and encourage them to challenge our assumptions. Both sides are important, and Dr. Wildman believes we do far too little of the latter when we know that our future depends upon student creativity. He believes schools should be learning communities, where there is a sharing of knowledge; where students/teachers are all learners; where members value education; and where decisions are made on the basis of the merit of ideas, not their ownership.
Dr. Wildman’s research has proceeded by examining consistency between philosophy, theory, and practice. He has found that when assuming the role of a school administrator in a new community, an educator should first be respectful of what is there. Visions must grow from within, as even an excellent vision in one place should rarely be laid upon an institution elsewhere. A vision must fit the place. Dr. Wildman believes it is more expensive not to provide everyone with a liberal education than to go to great expense to do so, as a democracy requires an educated citizenry.
Louis Wildman is an Emeritus Professor at California State University, Bakersfield. He has a B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, a M.Mus.Ed. from the University of Portland, and an Ed.D. from the University of Washington. His most recent book, Let’s Share Our Ideas About Educational Leadership, summarizes his philosophy of education and is published by the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. They also awarded him the “Living Legend Award.” His public school administrative experience includes service as a teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, and school district superintendent. He is a former president of the California Association of Professors of Educational Administration, and in 2006 was selected “California Outstanding Professor of the Year” by the Association of California School Administrators.