Monday, 27 May 2013

The Seven C's of Competent Leadership

1. Communication that is clear, concise, compelling and timely.  Stay in touch with customers'  information that keeps them connected

2. Collaboration that is supportive and encouraging.  It takes time, effort and energy,  but the results are compelling.

3. Confidence that inspires mutual trust, mutual respect and the open sharing of information, otherwise known as transparency that provides clarity.

4. Courage to take on the difficult challenges and find workable solutions, solve a problem and move forward.

5. Compassion that illustrates and demonstrates care for the well-being of individuals and the environment in which they all work.

6.  Commitment to agreed upon goals and plans and to the enduring completion of tasks and projects affecting all constituencies.

7. Character that reflets integrity, honesty, empathy, genuineness and warmth, indications of  concern for the common good.

* In addition to the beginning C word in each of the seven, find another C word or more in each number!  

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Is 21st Century Education Obsolete?

Can you imagine using a cell phone that is 10 years old?  I have seen a few but not many.  Driving a 10-year- old car has become more possible since that is merely a 2003 model and cars haven’t radically changed all that much in terms of performance, especially as they enable you to get from one place to another.  And, if one is careful about maintenance (and sustainability) any good car can get 200,000 miles.  However, hybrids and other alternative fuel cars have come on the market within the past decade for the most part.  The world of consumption designs built-in obsolescence to make us believe we need the newer, better, much improved model and a lot of that is nothing more, or less, than slick marketing gimmicks.

I have several pairs of shoes and lots of clothes older than 10 years that still have a lot of wear left in them and I don’t care that much about style.  Tools in the barn?  They are pretty much the same ones as I have had for more than 10 years and still performing well.  And me?  Well, I am about to start my 77th year and I don’t think I am quite ready to be put into the obsolete pasture just yet.  That will come soon enough, thank you very much.

But education, being defined as 21st century, while well intentioned, and calling for reform, has yet to show widespread signs of significant change.  There are certainly bright spots here and there and signs of hope in many places where people are investing in a different kind of delivery and outcome.  But we’re still bogged down by standardized test scores, obsolete measurement and assessments that do very little for kids, bureaucratic systems that thrive on top-down, heavy-handed management, and too much one size fits all mentality.  Kids are still primarily grouped by ages.  Ken Robinson refers to that as the only thing they really have in common is their date of manufacture.  His talk on changing the paradigm is a must see and hear.

We need another name and another concept for education that is truly reformed, truly catholic (little C, please!) and truly evangelical.  I remember that phrase from a long time ago, uttered by James I. McCord in a theological debate about reforming religion, still a big issue in my mind.  My point is that the terms could also be applied to education.  The operative word may, in fact, be truly.  Instead of tweaking the edges, adding a new course, hiring someone in charge of creative learning, etc. we need a radical re-design of the entire enterprise.  There is not much short of a revolution that will accomplish what I see is needed.  Evolution will take too long and leave too many children behind.

So, you ask, what is needed?  What can you do without “throwing out the baby with the bath water?”  For starters, ask yourself what you would do if you were starting over, what you might do if you were starting a “school” from scratch, a clean, blank slate and you can create whatever you believe will make a difference in the lives of kids, regardless of the age group you want to serve?  First, why would you do it? What would you do?  How would you do it?  Who would you like to join you in the effort?  And, finally where would you want to do that?  OK, have you gotten some answers to those questions?  Really?  Are you sure?  Maybe it’s not even a “school” as such places have been defined in the past.

Now, move to what the obstacles are that are preventing you from accomplishing reforming, reshaping and redesigning where you are.  How would you go about removing those obstacles?  Maybe it is not re-anything as that might be regression.  How about the concept of a new school within a school, not for everyone, but for those willing to take an intelligent risk on a new design for teaching and learning, emphasis on learning, not teaching?  How about that for starters?  Now come up with your own and go for it.  Need help?  Ask for it.

Monday, 20 May 2013

A Rooster Named Jack

Jack is our third in a series of roos.  The first was Rex, the chosen male of several Ameracauna roosters, and he was a kingly sort, regal in appearance and behavior.  He ruled the roost and kept his girls in sight, pretending to lead them around as our chickens are free ranging.  Although we have six acres they all tended to stay within 100 yards of their house and ours.  Rex met his demise in the jaws of an Australian Shepherd who had a certain tenacity for chasing birds of a feather flocked together. The dog was shipped off to Nevada.

Our second dominant male was Pierre, a French Black Copper Maran, really quite splendid and although his crowing was a bit off key, his strutting around the yard was definitely in step.  Imagine hearing the French National Anthem, the Marseillaise, and watching Pierre march to and fro around and among the trees.  He had grown up from a baby with his girls so they were very close and seemed to give him great respect.  The ladies really led him but let him believe otherwise.  Sound familiar?  Pierre and his ladies were sold before we departed for Mexico for a 3-month sojourn in the south for the winter months.

When we returned, we missed those fresh eggs from our own chickens and I found 5 Cuckoo Marans, one of whom we named Jack, the other 4 being his egg-laying companions and he seems to have two who are his favorites.  To say that Jack is the alpha chicken is an understatement.  He crows a lot, and not just in the early morning, but especially when someone comes around.  He even flaps his wings, just to show off.  But more than that, and what occasioned this blog is that today, I saw him chase one of the cats in a foot race not to be believed unless seen.  I wish I had been quick enough to get a video.  The cat escaped but it was close and I’m not sure what Jack would have done had he caught the cat, Cleo. Our dog  gives Jack a wide berth as do the other two cats.  They simply avoid him.

My point in all of this has to do with leadership.  Jack leads but he is offensive in doing so.  He has even threatened me a few times and if it continues, he may be sent to freezer camp.  He and I know that I am bigger and stronger and would win in the end but I don’t want to defeat Jack.   I want to respect him and in turn, I would like respect from him but I am not exactly sure how to train a rooster  It may be too late to change his bad habits.  Do you know leaders who are offensive either without knowing it or because that’s simply their style?  For some, being in charge seems to mean exerting authority by being loud, arrogant and at times, downright annoying.