Monday, June 9, 2014

Education's Eight Blunders of the World

As a personal guidepost, I’ve always referred to Ghandi’s Eight Blunders of the World in order to guide my life and decisions.  The blunders came out of a context of civil rights and revolution in India, but are particularly relevant in today’s world.  Ghandi’s Eight Blunders of the World are as follows:

Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Knowledge without Character
Commerce without Morality
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrifice
Politics without Principals
Rights without Responsibilities

I’ve recently thought about how these guiding words can be applied to the world of education.  On a certain level, every one of these principles does apply, but I thought I’d take a shot at trying to adapt their meaning to specifically working in schools.  Here’s my offer:

Learning without Sharing 

As educators it is our responsibility to learn as much as possible about our field.  Good educators are always engaging in continual professional development in order to further that knowledge in order to use that knowledge to help others.  Thus, it is not just important that we GAIN knowledge, as we go a step further to share that knowledge with as many people as possible in the education world.  That includes sharing with students, parents, staff, and with your Personal Learning Network.  It is in the sharing where the real value of learning happens.

Collaborating without Listening 

We often take on roles in education to collaborate with others in order to broaden what we have to offer to students, families and schools.  However, as much as I have learned over the years through formal education, attending conferences, reading, and modeling others, I know I only have a limited piece to offer compared to what the entire educational community has to offer as well.  Thus, it is incumbent on me, and on educators to do their best listening to others.  Listen to ideas and suggestions, incorporate others creativity and best practices, listen to how your approach positively (or negatively) impacts others.  Collaboration is a two-way street, and that happens through actively being mindful about engaging in reflective listening. 

Expertise without Relationships 

Plenty of professionals in the education world bring a vast world of expertise to the table to help staff and students learn.  Oftentimes, however, having this expertise is a necessary but not sufficient condition to advice being acted on in a real and invested way.  In order for this to happen, the leader, or teacher, needs to develop strong working relationships.  These relationships set a foundation of trust, and with trust, people are more likely to open their ears to taking risks and trying new things.

Recommendations without Empathy 

As educators, we make recommendations every day to students and families, that often have vast impacts on lives outside of the school’s walls.  When we make these recommendations, we should always step into another’s shoes and evaluate impact.  We want to leave students and families in a better place in the future and should be guided by the medical Hippocratic Oath – First do no harm.

Teaching without Guiding 

There is plenty of important information in this world that needs to be communicated to our students every day.  It is our responsibility to not just give information to students, however, but to guide them in how to use new found knowledge to empower their lives.  Teachers don’t want to be just the providers of information (Google is a provider), but to be a guide to walk students towards a better future fostering analytic reasoning, and creativity on their chosen path.

Working without Giving Back 

We all must realize that we are fortunate to work in communities that have taken us in as leaders to guide the community’s children and educate them.  The community has put trust in us to do this and has provided the resources for us to do so.  We should recognize that we are now an important part of these communities, and we should make efforts to give back in ways that leave them in a better place than we found them.

Decision Making without Vision 

Very often we make decisions impulsively, yet we should never act on impulse.  There should be a guiding vision that serves as a foundation for decisions for students, families, and schools.  Without a guiding vision, we too often list back and forth without a clear plan, and we begin to become disorganized, and lack cohesion in our efforts.

Rights without Responsibilities 

This blunder I left the same, as it continues to apply as stated.  We have rights as teachers, staff members, and community members.  The rights, however, do not come without the responsibility of doing what is in the best interest of students.  Student benefit should be at the center of all of our plans and actions, and we must always reflect and consider our actions in relation to this goal.