Sunday, December 11, 2005
Play your own tunes
Have we been singing other peoples songs too long?
We need to rediscover and celebrate our own voices.
I often hear, from my principal friends, that being a principal is getting no easier. There are always things to be done that take their attention away from the teaching and learning that they feel ought to be their priority.
Maybe it is time for principals to stop dancing to others tunes and get together with each other and write their own script? The trouble is that, over the years, what with the pressure to compete with each other, no one is prepared to take the lead role? Too often whatever sharing there is is focused on ways to comply with imposed requirements. No wonder some principals are complaining of stress.
All this contributes to a loss of creativity and a lack of appreciation of the wisdom that resides in each school. Answers, it seems, always come from those on high. This can’t be right; it has never worked in the past.
Andy Hargreaves (see our newsletter) says that, ‘teachers are suffering from eroded autonomy, lost creativity, restricted flexibility and a constrained capacity to exercise their own judgment.’ He continues that principals, ‘keep their heads down, struggle alone and withdraw from colleagues.’ At the same time there are others who happily put on a brave face and say that things are just going well – it is seen as weakness to admit that perhaps they aren’t coping? Some, who know no better, even enjoy it their managerial roles – it is all they know!
It does seem that principals (and in turn teachers) are so busy complying with endless demands (none the least assessment requirements) that there is no time for creativity and imagining other possibilities – and no time to work with others to think of better ways.
Dean Fink (another International educator) advice to principals and teachers is to, ‘shake off the shackles of conformity and compliance and imagine, create,…do something.’
It is all about controlling your own destiny or letting someone else do it. About singing your own song in the company of other like minded schools. To do this schools have to realize the power of working together collegially and to recognize each other strengths and weaknesses. The latter is a problem.
Principals and teachers should be ‘designers’ of education and not reduced to ‘delivers’ of other people tunes
The development of new tunes would make teaching more fun but it will take courage from someone to find their voice, to take the lead, and start the melody going.
If someone does take the lead a Mexican wave could be started and who know what might happen ? The Ministry might even change their dated and tiresome tunes! Their new role could be to orchestrate it all, be talents scouts, and share all the music that would be created.
The best songs would have a power of their own.