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Tag Archives: Leadership. Servant-Leadership

Landscape Survey

I chose a metaphor about 21st Century learning being similar to a living topography in my writing to date, which is different from the flat world view of some i.e. Thomas Friedman.

There is definitely more information available in our world and it comes at us much faster, but my view is one that of textured and layered world and not flat. This uses the etymological roots of topic linked to topikas and topos. In this sense, we engage topics which are alive and there multiple meanings continually emerge, one for each person in the learning environment.

I am challenged by the thought my understanding is not the only one that applies. I only need to turn to nature and see what John Brehm pointed out in this poem. I constantly survey landscapes as communally a better world hopefully emerges, not through a unified understanding, but one diversely rich and humane. I am called to remember others see things from a particular and unique perspective that is their own, not mine.

And what about this boulder,

knocked off the mountain top and

tumbled down a thousand years ago

 to lodge against the stream bank,

does it waste itself with worry

about how things are going

to turn out? Does the current

slicing around it stop itself mid-

stream because it can’t get past

all it’s left behind back at

the source or up in the clouds

where its waters first fell

 to earth? And these trees,

would they double over and

clutch themselves or lash out

 furiously if they were to discover

what the other trees really

thought of them? Would the wind

 reascend into the sky forever,

like an in-drawn breath,

if it knew it was fated simply

to sweep the earth of windlessness,

to touch everything and keep

Silence, Solitude, Sabbath

I head into my Sabbath – I disconnect to reconnect. Last weekend we spent time in silence and in that space solitude appeared. I enjoyed a good week in a place I often struggle to find peace of mind. Besides the retreat, it was made easier as I participate in a wonderful group on a monthly conference call and we met this week. I also interviewed for a radio show about mindful servant-leadership. This was an incredible experience and will share a schedule, when it is available, for those who are interested in listening to it.

I can only say the peace I felt this week was a result of the silence and solitude at the retreat. This and sharing that experience with Kathy was a great time.

Spacious silence and solitude…

Within you I sought refuge

Peaceful and compassionate place.

There lovingkindness discovered me

The heart breaks open

Each moment its reward.

Silently the spirit reveals itself

Able to speak

Softly, gently, tenderly,

Begs for its quiet voice to be heard.

Solace finds me

An unmarked path emerges

One step at a time.

At week’s end

Gratitude for wisdom revealed

For week’s beginning.

The Violence of Modern Life

Thomas Merton is one of my favourite authors and spiritual thinkers. He offered a radical definition of violence. This sounds like the opposite of multi-tasking, single-tasking. I hope I can do better as I move forward and take time to listen to the inner teacher and its wisdom.

Parker Palmer shared this with those of us who follow him on Facebook.

A Vision By Wendell Berry

Nothing worth its salt comes easy. I enjoy Wendell Berry and his reminders that the world is a better place if we live in it fully in the moment and mindful of this very moment and place.

If we will have the wisdom to survive,

to stand like slow-growing trees

on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,

if we make our seasons welcome here,

asking not too much of earth or heaven,

then a long time after we are dead

the lives our lives prepare will live

here, their houses strongly placed

upon the valley sides, fields and gardens

rich in the windows. The river will run

clear, as we will never know it,

and over it, birdsong like a canopy.

On the levels of the hills will be

green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.

On the steeps where greed and ignorance

            cut down

the old forest, an old forest will stand,

its rich leaf-fall drifting its roots.

The veins of forgotten springs will have

            opened..

Families will be singing in their fields.

In the voices they will hear a music

risen out of the ground. They will take

nothing from the ground they will not

            return,

whatever the grief at parting. Memory,

native to this valley, will spread over it

like a grove, and memory will grow

into a legend, legend into song, song

into sacrament. The abundance of this

            place,

the songs of its people and its birds,

will be health and wisdom and indwelling

light. This is no paradisal dream.

Its hardship is its possibilities.

                                    ─Wendell Berry

 

When we discussed this poem, students understood that success is not always an easy journey. Some important aspects are the hard work and disappointments along the way. The word and phrase that caught their attention was “This is no paradisal dream. Its hardship is its possibilities.

Leadership Is a Conversation – Harvard Business Review

Leadership Is a Conversation – Harvard Business Review. Here is an excellent article form Harvard Business Review. Leading is about a conversation. Leaders need to recognize the importance of listening mindfully and attentively otherwise their role is one of management.

Are educators ready for this? Conversations are much harder work than using glib commentary.

Subversive Seuss?

Fact is stranger than fiction. Charles Adler, in an op-ed column “We don’t need no ‘educrats'”, pointed out the sometimes subversive nature of Dr. Seuss. There is more to the story than Mr. Adler revealed in his article and a more detailed account is at “Yertle the Turtle Deemed ‘Too Political’ for Fragile Canadian Children.”

I am impressed with the dedicated bureaucratic representative of Prince Rupert [British Columbia] School District who acted to make sure susceptible elementary students were not corrupted by the seditious literature of a beloved, albeit radical, children’s author. After all, those small, impressionable beings will enroll in university level classes to learn about Paulo Freire‘s critical theory or Leonardo Boff‘s liberation theology and we could have a more just, humane world to live in. When I grow up, can I be paid to sit in an ivory tower and be out of touch with the real world? The jurisdiction representative stated “It’s a good use of my time if it serves the purpose of shielding the children from political messaging.” Oh my God, political messaging; what next? What is he talking about?

There is a larger context. The British Columbia Teacher’s Federation and the province of British Columbia are involved in a bitter labour dispute. The teacher was not reading a book to students in the classroom, but the quote was taken by a teacher to a meeting with management.

If there is a political statement being made here, it is in the impact on children’s learning. The book’s line “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” points to those with the least. Dr. Seuss spoke to the greatest measure of servant-leadership. What growth do we see in those with the greatest needs? When will someone speak for the children and serve and lead at the same time? Will adults need to grow up first so that growth can be fulfilled and measured? Neither side gets a pass here.

Part of the problem for children’s learning is the use of polarizing language in the dispute. Do the children care if there is a management side or teacher side? Are adults locked in a political game replete with childish behaviours to gain real or imagined political advantage while using children as pawns? This suggests questions, not answers. Are these not someone’s children? What are parents doing? What does this say about the state of public education? We talk a good story in education and say all the right things, but I am embarrassed and angry, as an educator and as a citizen in a purportedly democratic country, when I read articles of this nature. What drew us to this vocation? Or is it just a job now? What are the qualities exemplified by great teachers: compassion, caring, collaboration, etc? Are we living up to those when we talk and act this way?

Mr. Adler has this mostly right. What is missing is the following question, “When was the last time some people were in a classroom, rolled up sleeves, and taught children?”

Table Poster Summary March 17, 2012 World Cafe

Attached is the summary of the Table Posters March 17, 2012 table posters world café event. I was able to share some of our experience over the past 2 months at the Servant-Leadership conference in Portland this past weekend.

I devoted a slide to some  of the descriptors that emerged at our tables. These descriptors serve as a nexus for the servant-leader, mindful practice for all  leaders, and the necessary building of community that is so vital in education today.

Last night, I was re-reading an interview with Parker Palmer conducted by Mike Seymour for his book Educating for Humanity. This line stood out for me: “The professional context in school allows very little reflective time for the important questions of selfhood and meaning.” This lack of time extends to adults and children in schools. Without caring and open conversations, the purpose of education remains a question unanswered. The questions about the purposes of education need to placed in the middle of our conversations, attended to carefully, allow spaces to open up for truly democratic participation to emerge, and not assume there are pat answers. That is what I have taken from our time together. There is so much gained from purposeful conversations framed around appreciative and eloquent questions. We took time and reflected on what we felt was important.

What can we do to extend these conversations? What can we do to bring these conversations to schools regardless of how they are organized? Children and adults will benefit from conversations that allow reflective spaces to take root and grow in their schools.

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