Working with a group of teachers this week I was asked to share what I had learnt in over 40 years as teacher, leader etc...
I spoke about the importance of REVIEW prior to ANALYSIS and PLANNING because I am an evangelist for Action-Research and developing a REFLECTIVE profession...
I mused that we all make assumptions and that it's important to be open about what they are, if we are to plan our teaching and leading effectively. I went on to hypothesise that assumptions, such as these, become beliefs when they are shown to be true, over time.
I then projected this slide:
Show me a problem, a concern, a worry, or a barrier to improvement and success and I’ll find someone somewhere in the system who forgot to, didn’t, or couldn’t work out how to stop it, mitigate it, or cope with it. Then I’ll (want to) help them sort it.
I’ve learnt, and observed, that barriers to success, come down to a lack of capacity in individuals, teams and organisations to “review their effectiveness and plan to improve”.
So, I now believe that self-evaluation and planning is a critical skill, that can and must be taught. It embeds the capacity to become independent and, later, interdependent. It builds a “Can do” culture in families, schools and the workplace. Crucially, it spreads a deeper and more powerful understanding of community, society and democracy.
I reckon most of my BLOG/rants have grown from this belief! I often megaphone about colleagues, fellow citizens and those in authority who somehow missed something critical that was happening all around them. Whether it is abuse, corruption, bullying, oppression, environmental ignorance or just unacceptable sloppiness across the board.
The phrase that epitomises the after effect of such lapses and suffuses the hollow excuses, even apologies, when they are offered, is, "These were unintended consequences". This, self justifying utterance, is an acceptance that someone, somewhere, perhaps the speaker, did not think through what they were doing, or not doing, before they acted... Well, I think and shout, "They bloody well should have done!"
Am I being harsh? Is this too simplistic? Maybe I'm railing against apathy and, as I was once chided, "Baying at the moon".
I have come to believe that nothing can and will improve until an "action research minded" individual, or group, steps into the failing arena. My goodness - no it's their goodness - there are some warming examples of individual campaigners, sufferers, whistleblowers and heroes who have the strength and moral purpose to sand up for what they feel, know or believe is "right" and "just".
The hopeful bit
(So) The only way I can see of making any positive difference is by teaching our children that they can make a difference by thinking deeply and acting accordingly. When educationalists, parents and community leaders teach in this way - we are building hope into the curriculum. We are inoculating a generation against apathy and breeding thinking citizens who will be able to make judgements about their immediate and wider world. They will likely be interdependent and caring, rather than independent and selfish.
If you are like me and so many others I hear bemoaning the "current situation" around and about our lives, work and politics... I just ask that you do all you can to encourage the critical skills of: judgements based on evidence; analysis of critical factors, and prioritised action to weaken barriers to improvement and success.
Isn't this about, "Looking at what we are doing, with a view to doing it better next time?"
I repeat - Am I being harsh? Is this too simplistic? Maybe I'm railing against apathy and, as I was once chided, "Baying at the moon".
10 things we can resolve to do:
(or at least check out with reliable others whether we are right to consider such action)
- Whistleblow, report, challenge unacceptable behaviour.
- Praise and publicise good acts
- Refuse to buy goods and services from corrupt, or unethical companies
- Offer positive feedback and reviews for those who provide good products and sevices
- Recycle correctly and search for environmentally sensible products
- Pick up other peoples litter
- Use energy wisely
- Argue on behalf of those who are too weak, or vulnerable to make their own case.
- Gently (and increase pressure on a rising scale) challenge ourselves, and those closest to us, when we fail to act on witnessing unacceptable behaviour and actions (even if this is at some personal cost).
- Vote - always vote and weigh up the consequences of your vote on vulnerable citizens across our world.
Oh yes, PLEASE add comments below with your own positive suggestions...