Tag Archives: Leadership

Gandhi’s 7 things that will destroy us and Covey’s question

In the introduction to Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, Stephen Covey writes the following

Gandhi taught that there are seven things that will us. As we study them slowly and carefully, we see in a powerful way how each represents an end being accomplished through an unprincipled or unworthy means:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Isn’t it interesting how each one of these admirable ends can be falsely attained?

If I were to pick one as the most dangerous, I would go with ‘knowledge without character’ – “Knowledge is power” after all.

Thoughts to share? Enagage with me on twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

Class act: ending the education wars – Maxine McKew

I’ve given a voice to the many teachers in schools who are experts at what they do and every day find ways to challenge and stretch young Australian minds

Maxine McKew

9780522866575McKew’s book contains nothing new. That is not so much a criticism of the book but of governments of both stripes who have not heeded the recommendations coming from leading Australian researchers in education. Suggestions that the Gonski ‘needs based’ funding be adopted, that Hattie’s Visible Learning precepts be integrated into all schools and equipping school leaders to direct resources for best student outcomes, have been written about at length elsewhere. Her writing style makes the material very accessible and her public profile will perhaps attract some readers who are not well versed in the topic.

The book is available through Melbourne University Press.

A few quotes that I will be reflecting further upon are reproduced below. They are not my own work – please attribute them to the original author.

[E]xperts possess knowledge that is more integrated, in that they combine the introduction of new subject knowledge with students’ prior knowledge; they can relate current lesson content to other subjects in the curriculum; and they make lessons uniquely their own by changing, combining, and adding to the lessons according to their students’ needs and their own teaching goals.

John Hattie quoted on 3

But Australia’s scores in international literacy tests aren’t dropping because the students who sit those tests don’t know their sounds. They are performing poorly because they cannot comprehend what they are reading. They have poor vocabularies and cannot follow sentences that employ more complex language structures. They cannot read between the lines.

Our low-achieving students – both on international measures and the home grown National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests – share one, very telling, common characteristic. They don’t speak “school English”, or Standard Australian English, at home. They may speak a language other than English, or Aboriginal English, or a creole, or “bogan” English – the kind where words like “youse” feature.

Misty Adoniou quoted on 20-21 (read the original piece online here)

Nowadays, families just like [the many migrant families before them], in search of a more settled life and their own piece of Australian magic arrive from across the globe—from the Subcontinent, from north and south Asia, and from Africa. But the children of these new migrant groups are entering a vastly different Australian schooling system. Long gone is the suburban public high school that once brought together the sons and daughters of just about everyone—where the kids of doctors and dentists rubbed up against the offspring of tradesmen and shopkeepers. There is a remnant of this social diversity left in the primary sector, but by high school the divide is acute. The best and brightest (and those who max out on private tutoring) head for the country’s selective high schools. The professional classes opt for high-fee independent schools or the more prestigious of the Catholic schools while trade- and commerce-based families increasingly enrol
in the newer, low-fee, faith-based schools.

That leaves [public] schools…to cater for the rest: the children of low-income or public housing dependant families, urban Indigenous people, and newly arrived refugees.

50-51

What to do?

1. Invest in the training and capabilities of school leaders so that they are operationally proficient and know how to motivate and direct resources towards teachers who are constantly improving their knowledge and skills.
2. Adopt as a standard across the system, and especially in teacher education academies, the key elements of John
Hattie’s Visible Learning approach. Know thy impact should be on the wall of every staffroom in every school across the country.
3. Go for quality…[get] rid of dumbed-down electives. Show students you care enough to make the material intellectually demanding and watch them take off.
4. Listen to the voices of students. They know when they are being short-changed by teachers who are ill-prepared or by schools that are cruising.
5. Create an environment that enables more government schools to develop strategic partnerships with business groups and philanthropic organisations.
6. [Fully adopt] the Gonski funding model [and direct] resources to where the need is greatest.

197

Leave a comment

Filed under Book reflections

Richard Rohr – Immortal Diamond

Immortal diamondHaving just finished Richard Rohr’s latest reflection Immortal Diamond I have taken the time to collect a few quotes that caused some wonderful moments of personal reflection over coffee. The book is easily available through the usual providers like Amazon and Book Depository.

If you would like to join in a conversation, hit me up on twitter.

Note that all words that follow are direct quotations from the book and not being my own work should be attributed to the author. Emphasis is mine to show thoughts of particular personal interest.

We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve the problem of evil, yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is ‘the problem of good.’ How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world? Tackling this problem would achieve much better results.

X

These three paragraphs…summarise the book

1. The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference.

2. Death is not just physical dying, but going to full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, beyond where I am in control, fully beyond where I am now.

3. When you go into the full depths and death, sometimes even the depths of your sin, you come out the other side—and the word for that is resurrection.

XX

If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success…. If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.

Thomas Merton quoted on 9-10

The False Self is what changes, passes, and dies. Only your True Self lives forever. There are/our major splits from reality that we have all made in varying degrees to create our False Self:

1. We split from our shadow self and pretend to be our idealized self.

2. We split our mind from our body and soul and live in our minds.

3. We split life from death and try to live our life without any ‘death.’

4. We split ourselves from other selves and try to live apart, superior, and separate.
Each of these four illusions must—and will be overcome, either in this world, in our last days or afterward.

29

Much of the Christian religion, in misunderstanding and seeking to avoid the major death of the False Self, became moralistic instead, piously and falsely sacrificial about many arbitrary and small things. I guess we thought this pleased Jesus—who actually saw through it all and denied any idealization of sacrifice or false generosity and the payback that it always expects. In another book I called it “the myth of sacrifice”.  ‘Sacrifice’ usually leads to a well-hidden sense of entitlement and perpetuates the vicious circle of merit, a mind-set that leads most of us to assume that we are more deserving than others because of what we have given or done.

40

‘Re-ligio’ (‘rebinding, re-ligamenting’) is not doing its job if it only reminds you of your distance, your unworthiness, your sinfulness, and your inadequacy before God’s greatness. Whenever religion actually increases the gap, it becomes antireligion instead. I am afraid we have lots of antireligion in all denominations.

I always figured that was the meaning of the very first devil Jesus met and had to exercise; notice it was living in the synagogue itself (Mark 1:21-28). So I am not talking about the devils of secularism, scientism, or atheism. I am talking about the common blockages and boundary markers inside religion itself — anything that deliberately increases the gap between my unworthiness and the supreme majesty of God – the exact and very gap that Jesus came to deny and undo.

101

The spiritual question is this: Does one’s life give any evidence of an encounter with God? Does “this encounter bring about in you any of the things that Paul describes as the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit: “love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5:22)? Is the person or the group after this encounter different from its surroundings, or does it reflect the predictable cultural values and biases of its group?

Or, even worse, does your religion spend much of its time defining and deciding who cannot participate? When there is not much to enjoy from the inside, all you can do is keep yourself above and apart from others. Many groups still forbid “under pain of sin” worshiping God in another denominational space. Please. Such religion is nothing but groupthink and boundary marking, and is not likely to lead you to any deep encounter with God. Such smallness will never be ready or eager for true greatness.

109

I order you, 0 sleeper, to awake!
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of my hands, you were created in my image.
Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Together we form only one person and we cannot be separated!

From an ancient homily for Easter Saturday quoted on 187

Ways to practice resurrection now

1. Refuse to identify with negative, blaming, antagonistic, or fearful thoughts (you cannot stop ‘having” them).

2. Apologize when you hurt another person or situation.

3. Undo your mistakes by some positive action toward the offended person or situation.

4. Do not indulge or believe your False Self—that which is concocted by your mind and society’s expectations.

5. Choose your True Self – your radical union with God – as often as possible throughout the day

6. Always seek to change yourself before trying to change others.

7. Choose as much as possible to serve be served.

8. Whenever possible, seek the common good over your mere private good.

9. Give preference to those in pain, excluded, or disabled in any way.

10. Seek just systems and policies over mere charity.

11. Make sure your medium is the same as your message.

12. Never doubt that it is all about love in the end.

211-212

Leave a comment

Filed under Book reflections

A prayer for the end of year

Lord God, the greatest of all Teachers

Bless all in this school as we seek to end our year with the grace you so generously provide.

We give thanks for the students the staff, the school council, the families and all who have contributed to this successful and joy filled year.

We stand before you a community greatly blessed by many cultures, languages and nationalities. What a gift indeed it is Lord to come together as the body of Christ and celebrate as one community.

We affirm all the positive moments, of insight, of the excitement of learning, of accomplishment, of creativity, of laughter, of a sense of community.

We recognise the times of struggle, of difficult work, the tinge of sadness that comes with farewelling staff, students and families. We ask that all who come into our community go out in the way you taught us, to pass the good news to all. May we always be grateful for the time we have had together as part of the school community.

As we leave for the summer break May we take with us the knowledge that you will keep us all in your embrace so we may rest and be restored.
Assure us of your presence as we can continue in the ongoing teaching and learning of your love expressed most profoundly in the sacrifice of your precious son Jesus.

Amen

By T Brennen (Leaning heavily on a resource provided byhttps://educationforjustice.org/)

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Presentations and Sermons

What would I look for when hiring school staff?

Last week a @Danhaesler posted a graphic (reproduced below) exploring his thoughts when thinking about hiring school staff.

So what about this principal’s thoughts? At a teacher meeting this week I asked all of the teaching staff at my school to come up with their own. Mine is reproduced below. There are a few underlying ‘non-negotiables’ present in the questions.

if yes come teachI encourage all educators to have a go at this. It provides a wonderful way into clarifying the educational values of both individuals and schools.

Let me know what you think via twitter.

@Danhaelser’s thoughts:

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

Things currently stuck above my desk

– Richard St John

covey

Steven Covey

rohr

– Richard Rohr

Top-Qualities-for-a-School-Principal-Infographic

Leave a comment

Filed under Currently stuck above my desk

#acelconference thoughts to remember

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings

What every good leader knows – Richard Rohr

Quoted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to see as the Mystics see, The Crossroad Publishing Company: NY, pp 156-­157. More information here.

At times, spiritual wisdom does not harmonize well with the goals and practices of the world. But sometimes spiritual seekers take this truth too far, thinking that to be “spiritual” we have to be naive and simplistic and can’t lead as well as others. At the same time, religious leaders often try to bypass the needed competencies because they believe their special status makes the training whether skill sets or the work of spiritual growth unnecessary.

In fact, there is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs and lead situations even more imaginatively with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. This is surely why some of Christianity’s great mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Ignatius of Loyola, were also first rate leaders, motivators of others, and reformers of institutions.

Here are some insights into what every good, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in the workplace, at home, or in the classroom.

  • Good leaders are seers of alternatives.
  • Good leaders move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • Good leaders know that every onesided solution is doomed ahead of time to failure. It is never a final solution but only a postponement of the problem.
  • Good leaders learn to study, discern, and search together with their people for solutions.
  • Good leaders know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, over identified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering.
  • Good leaders search for a middle ground where the most people can find meaning; they work for win/win situations. (This is hard to do if you assume you are the higher, the more responsible, the in-­charge, the senior, the more competent or once you have made a harsh judgment about the other.)
  • Good leaders know that there is no perfect solution. That is the lie and false promise of the dualistic mind, polarity, and all or nothing thinking.
  • Good leaders know that seeking exclusive or overly rapid recourse to the law is an easy way out, and often just a sign of laziness or fear of taking responsibility.
  • Good leaders know that the rule of law and obedience can inform you only about what is illegal or immoral; it cannot of itself lead you to God, truth, goodness, or beauty (Romans 3:20 and 7:7).
  • Good leaders know that rapid recourse to the law might be seeking the will of God, but it might also be seeking to avoid the responsibility, the necessary self-doubt, the darkness, and the prayer required to live in faith, hope, and love.
  • Good leaders know that when done well, compromise and consensus seeking is not a way of abdicating essential values, but very often a way of seeking, and finding, other values, especially community building, along with giving more people a personal investment in the outcome.
  • Good leaders know that wisdom is “the art of the possible.” The key question is no longer “How can I problem solve now and get this off my plate?”, it is “How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for the next generations?”
  • Good leaders keep prayerfully offering new data, until they can work toward some consensus from all sides.
  • Good leaders want to increase both freedom and ownership among the group -­ not just subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • Good leaders let people know the why of a decision, and show how that is consistent with the group’s values. In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for non polarity thinking and full-­access knowing (prayer), a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.

In your own life of leadership, whether in private or in public, meditate on this list from time to time. Ask yourself honestly which aspects of non dual leadership are your strongest, and make note, over time, of which ones become more natural for you as you grow in the contemplative gaze.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lutheran Education

Expressions of faith-relatedness in higher education: four prototypes

As I sat in a great session at #ACLE2013 on the changing landscape of Lutheran education in the US my mind went back to this passage from ‘The Gift and Task of Lutheran Higher Education’ by Tom Christenson. It is written with a University level institution in mind but I think it holds true for all faith based schools.

“Institutions of higher education that are related to faith traditions may embody that relationship in various ways. Most do so in more than one of the ways I will distinguish. Thus, in practice, these distinctions are not as clear as they are in theory. Still, these characterizations may be helpful in understanding the dynamics of any given institution. I will sketch four prototypes here. They correspond to my experience of such institutions. But it is possible that there are types (besides combinations of the four) that I have left out.

Type A. There are institutions whose religious identity is established and maintained by the presence of an identifiable religious community. The most obvious examples of such institutions are Roman Catholic schools founded by a religious order of monks or nuns who maintain their presence and influence there.

Type B. There are institutions that embody their religious identity in the behavioral expectations of the members of the community. Such institutions may make very explicit the way they expect students (and faculty and staff) to behave.

Type C. There are institutions that embody their religious identity in theological conformity. Such institutions make explicit what the orthodoxy of the community is, and expect persons attending and working there to affirm it or at least not challenge it.

Type D. There are some institutions where religious identity is embedded in the epistemology and pedagogy of the place, i.e., in the way knowledge is thought about, defined, valued, pursued, and communicated, and in its anthropology, the way human being is understood. We know that institutions may differ in their epistemologies, but we are not used to thinking of these differences as embodiments of religious identity.”

What could this mean for the future of Lutheran schools in Australia?

Leave a comment

Filed under Lutheran Education

Lessons from an African refugee school

May 2013 Journal_Page_01Part of the process of returning back home from volunteering overseas is trying to put all the pieces of ourselves back together. I have previously written about the lessons I have taken from this experience and below is a link to an article I wrote for DAN. It raises some interesting points that I hope some take up in conversation with me.

Article from Dialogue Australiasia Journal May 2013

1 Comment

Filed under Articles, Presentations and Sermons