I think this is a big part of what makes SLA work so well and be so successful, but reading this also made me wonder if you have ever seen this level of empowerment backfire? I could imagine it leading to chaos and turmoil.
I think the real magic is more along the lines of "guided empowerment" or "empowerment by example." in other words, it takes a strong and special leader to be able to let go.
Ann I agree with your comment. We need everyone to work together as team to make sure that the school is focus on it's mission. Teacher leaders and school officials should always ask the community to get involve and the parents of the students as well. Because more outside networks and parents involve can help the school become a wonderful place for learning. I notice that a very few community networks and parents participate in Middle school functions. I notice more parents and community outsiders are always helping elementary and high schools more. Middle Schools and Junior HIgh schools barely get the supported needed. Do you agree?
Chris, excellent ideas, as always. The question remains, though, why for all our efforts, and all the efforts of the good people doing good things that you mention in the last post, we still do not have true success. It can't be things like bureaucracy or unions, which all public programs share, or the poverty of our students, or their parents, or whatever. There is something else wrong with public education that is keeping all our good people from changing the system for the better. Isn't it time we looked for the source of this problem?
For me, the first place to look would be our state-run school system. Look at it this way. Where does our money come from? From the public, not just the parents. How do they know that we are doing anything to deserve more support? How do they know that they ought to fund better 7th grade math teachers, for example,or more links to community-help organizations?
They don't. There is no data out there on the public benefit we provide to the public. Why is that? Because the states have no incentive to publicize this benefit, since a large part of it moves out of each state when their graduates move away. That graduate mobility forces each state to aim for a middle level of success, so they won't lose more than they put into education. They have to try to be mediocre.
I know, you will say that as a principal you cannot get involved in such political issues. But if not you, or me (I was the AP English at Park West in NYC up to when it was closed), then who? Isn't getting ordinary citizens involved in government what Jefferson was talking about back in the day?
But you will say it can't be changed. Well, it could, it just would be difficult. But no more difficult than beating our heads against the wall for the next 20 years, making schools somewhat better and then watching the overall system pull them back to mediocrity. It would be worth the effort.
One of the questions that I am always hearing students ask is "what purpose does this serve?" referring to a particular content area. I am always quick to answer but at the same time feeling a bit hypocritical. For me, the purpose of learning, especially among younger learners, firstly is to help us make sense of the world and our existence. Secondly, learning gears us for success and functionality within our communities. Education is for the development of the whole person.
I believe when we can get to the point where the community of which the school is a part, to view education and the role of schools in this regard, we should see an improvement in the quality education learners experience. When the community is able to recognize that the work of the school and the role of teachers are critical to the sustenance of our social, spiritual, and economic existence, then perhaps education will become less of a political tool. In so doing, our students will be able to do more than simply regurgitate information from a text book, web site, or instructional video. Then they will become true social animals.
When we recognize that indeed schools require every process, every interaction, every system to contribute to the entire process of learning, then the power of education will be truly experienced within the society.
I agree with you in that many teacher believe that they basically can do what they want. Teach what they want and the way that they see fit, but fail to make sure that they have covered all that is required. Within every school, there is a mission, and all teachers are expected to live up to that mission, but so they really? When that mission statement is created can it be successfully implemented in each part of the school? By implementing an inquiry based curriculum you are faced with difficulties in staying with the vision of the school; however as an educator we must try to find a way to relate everything that we implement in the classroom back to the school’s vision. My question to you would be wither or not you think that as education changes, should a schools vision statement too change?