I was at church today and and the last line of the gospel really spoke to me.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. Luke 12:48
I see this as the point and mine vision for school. I can break this into two parts with the first capturing my leadership responsibilities and the second pertaining to all members of the educational community.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” This is really me in a nutshell. I can honestly say that I have had pretty much the most blessed and cushy existence I could imagine. I came from upper middle class parents, who have been together for over 40 years and who I NEVER saw fight or quarrel. I have had the same friends since elementary school with all of us in healthy and lasting relationships, living good lives after getting AT LEAST a university education. Add to that the fact that I live in North America and am white, male and middle class, it really can’t get much better than this. In fact I would argue that the status quo, the easy road, was tailor made for me. That is exactly why I think it is “required” of me to challenge and upset the status quo. I would in fact argue that the only people that can really change the institution or the status quo are those that benefit most from it. We have been given so much and thus, so much is required of us. This is my personal mantra as I work on instructional leadership throughout most of my career. I basically ask if it was good enough for me, then it probably has to change! This may sound counter intuitive, but the way I figure it, guys like me have had the upper hand for far too long.
In fact you could probably say this about most people in education. After all, if you are a teacher, then you probably did quite well in school and were successful enough to graduate from high school, university and post grad programs and if you are an admin, even more than that. This can make it hard to relate to those kids that really need us most, (the ones unlike us), so I find my mantra to be quite useful. I completely believe that there is a plan in place for all of us and if God gave me so much, it was so that I could have the influence to make things better for those that come after. This pertains to the students that I lead, but also the teachers.
Speaking of those teachers, I think the second part of Luke’s passage pertains quite well to all teachers. “from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. ” I cannot think of a profession in our society to which more is entrusted. I don’t think I fully realized this until I was a parent myself and my oldest when off to school. As we watched him walk into his class for the first time and the door closed behind him, I understood what I was entrusting to that teacher and in turn, understood what those parents entrust to me every day. With this in mind, I think it is a moral imperative for all teachers to be fully committed to their profession so as to do well by all that is entrusted to them. We are daily given the most valuable and essential natural resources that our society has and so we must look for ways to properly serve and work with them.
This leads me to my vision of schools. I want to see a place where those entrusted with so much are constantly looking for ways to improve and do a better job. This means that there is open and obvious development and innovation that slaps you in the face as soon as you walk the halls. All the professionals are honing their craft and looking to be better for those that constantly need you at your best.
I also think that schools have the singular ability to truly change the world. Why? Because they are run by people who are served by and empowered by the status quo, but really have no vested interest in maintaining it! This is incredible if you think about it. We are in the position we are in because of our station, but we do not diminish it by challenging it. With this in mind. I see a perfect school as one that continually challenges the norm and looks for new angles to approach learning. The perfect place would do away with standardized textbooks and would instead see the kids creating their own. They would be constructing knowledge instead of memorizing it. They would be tearing down the walls of our paternalistic society, instead of regarding its architects and heroes and forefathers My vision of school is based on one simple question: WHY? Literally every assignment and grade would start from there and then develop into what the STUDENT needs. All the adults in the place would be looking for their next identify and for the next challenge. Not sure if this sounds good to anyone else or if it just scares the hell out of everyone reading this. (Both apply to me!!)