I have been feeling a little despondent lately. I know you’re all used to this (each blog post appears to be a confession of misery) but I aim to use this post to ask for motivation from my PLN.
Soon my school will be getting a new principal. Our current principal is a delightful man: an English teacher, an avid guitar player, a lover of rock music, a man passionate about travel and about the human spirit … a great guy. But he is retiring to enjoy the rest of his life free of the immense responsibilities that come with being a high school principal.
I just tried to write a series of metaphors for a principal: shepherd, pilot, guide. They didn’t work. They are naff because I am too far of the left that I don’t see education as a hierarchy … I can’t see one person at the top with control, I just can’t. Having said that, I’m feeling that the role of a principal is to inspire. To scout for the good ideas, to identify the strengths of the team and hold them up as examples, encourage collaboration through mentoring, to support those who feel overwhelmed. The inspiring thing really gets me.
So I have a vision about education. It has evolved over the last three years and at its core it resists the current model we have. I really want to share it with our new principal. But why should I think that my vision for education is right? Why should I think (arrogantly) that my vision is the one to be implemented in my school? I can’t answer these questions. Perhaps I am an egoist. And I wonder … is this a necessary quality of a leader? Is it egoism and arrogance that drives a vision and makes it become a reality? Surely Hitler had a vision, right? How do we judge that one’s vision is ‘right’? Is there a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to ideas and ideals? Thinking about Hitler again, I guess there is a distinction that needs to be drawn.
I’m tired of being the lone nut. I’m tired of thinking that no one will be interested in my ideas about education in the 21st century. OK – let’s be honest, they’re not even my ideas. I’m an idea scavenger, voraciously devouring the perspectives of others on education now. Ultimately the vision of education which I claim to be mine, is not mine.
People have said to me (publicly, privately) that I am inspiring. Just writing that sentence makes me want to gag cos I sound like a complete wanker. But what does this mean? To inspire? My school colleagues often thank me for helping them with issues relating to technology. They say they wish they knew what I know. But then I’m too afraid to share my blog with them. I can’t understand why. I really can’t. I used to get excited about the ideas I have for teaching and I really wanted to share them. I was happy to present at staff meetings on Web 2.0 tools. But when it comes to my current ideas about student-centred inquiry-based learning and matching the learning space to the physical and online space … well, I think they’ll roll their eyes and say I’m mad. They’ll tell me an idealist. That there is too much to do. Maybe they’ll just disagree. That’s my fear. I’m afraid to be challenged. It’s safer here with you, people who read my blog, because you are supportive. You agree with me.
When our new principal arrives, should I talk to him/her about how I approach teaching and learning? Do I confess that I have dreams of revolutionising our beautiful community school to ensure our students are being challenged to think for themselves, to see that they have more to contribute to the world than just their labour, that they can challenge injustices and become life-long learners? Do I admit that I think education as we know it is slowly becoming irrelevant and will one day (who knows when) will be obsolete?
Nah … I’ll probably just hide in my classroom doing my own thing, tweet and blog about my grievances and finally give up teaching altogether. That’s probably what will happen.