Truly Powerful People (201)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I just read a friend’s dissertation. He is an educator and his work is a model of leadership development for administrators. It is an elegant model, well researched and written and yet there was something troubling about it. The assumptions defining an administrator’s role are about “minding the outcomes of student achievement.” Achievement is the goal.

There is nothing wrong with achievement – everyone wants to achieve something in life – but the real question in public education is “achievement of what?” What are we trying to achieve? And, why? We’re learning that test scores are not great indicators or predictors of success yet “achievement” has become synonymous with “test scores.” Really? Our intention is better test scores? Our best intention for our children is preparation for a job in the marketplace?

This is from Neil Postman’s book The End Of Education: “Thomas Jefferson…knew what schools were for – to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty. This is a man who produced an essay that could have cost him his life, and that included the words: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ It would not have come easily to the mind of such a man, as it does with political leaders today, that the young should be taught to read exclusively for the purpose of increasing their economic productivity.”

Has the bar for public education always been this low? I suspect it has and that’s the challenge. “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic,” the mantra of a bygone era, rings hollow in an age screaming for complex thinkers. Reducing all learning to a mechanical skill is a notion from an industrial age. If the role of the principal is the equivalent of the manager, the superintendent as CEO of achievement, then imagine what the role of the student must be: chassis on the assembly line; sit still and listen. No wonder 25% of our kids drop out of school before graduating!

What would be the administrator’s role if the intention was to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty? What would the administrator’s role be if the intention was to ignite ferocious inquiry? What if we wanted more than another generation of consumers and decided we wanted to support the development of children hungry, capable and unafraid to bring their best to the community and the world?

One Response

  1. AMEN, how about instilling curiousity, passion, health, community and stuff that a great life is made up of…… you are staring into the eyes of where we find ourselves today, thank you for your work and your willingness

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