In loco parentis: A Teacher's Guide to Educational Administration


230 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-7713-0204-5




Reviewed by P.J. Hammel

P.J. Hammel is a professor of Education at the University of


“The authors believe that all teachers have an administrative role to play.” If the aim of this work were to assist teachers in more efficiently playing this role, it would be an admirable objective, one that teachers would certainly applaud. It is an objective which, unfortunately, is not achieved. Twelve chapters are almost evenly divided in two parts: the first, a review of the theory and research of administration; the second, advice to the classroom teacher. The first part is a sketchy overview, almost skeletal in nature, with little explanation, application, or attempt at relevance. The second part is extremely didactive in nature, consisting almost entirely of suggestions for teachers to do this or that; there is no reference to theory and research — only admonitions to the teacher. By this approach the authors seem to be giving truth to the fallacy that there is no relationship between theory and practice. The conscientious reader is further exasperated by the use of diagrams and figures not relevant to the text or not clearly designated as relevant, and the use of technical jargon (for example, “reification” and “Gulick’s POSDCORB”) without any attempt to define or explain.

The second serious mistake is the authors’ decision to use Ontario as the example for studying provincial governance of education. Unfortunately, no one province today can serve as a model for all others; with this approach too many significant differences are merely mentioned or ignored entirely. A case in point is the extremely narrow treatment given to Roman Catholic Separate Schools; the situation across Canada is significantly different from that in Ontario. This particular issue is further confused by the totally unsupported contention that Catholic Separate Schools are “increasingly less sectarian given the example of post-Vatican II Catholicism.” This unfortunate local emphasis becomes so specific (for example, “Now report cards have become so sterile as to be almost useless”;and “The transfer process could be speeded up. Are all those lengthy interviews really necessary?”) that the authors seem really to believe that nothing of any significance happens outside of Ontario, or Toronto.

This work was simply not well conceived or well executed; inexcusable weaknesses are rampant. There is no excuse, for example, in a discussion of teacher dismissals for reasons of redundancy to suggest flippantly, “Expect the letters [of dismissal]. Find a shoulder to cry on.” Two chapters on organizational climate and the computer contain so little substance that one suspects they were included only to give the work an air of relevancy and currency. Finally, “in loco parentis”, the title of the work, is dismissed in two short sentences; a graphic indication indeed of the sketchy and inadequate treatment accorded the entire work.


Gilbert, V.K., A.T. Sheehan, and K.G. Teeter, “In loco parentis: A Teacher's Guide to Educational Administration,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed November 28, 2023,