One of the pure pleasures of a two-week vacation is the opportunity to read books. I just finished the popular fiction Shack (Young, 2007).
From it, I have three takeaways concerning deity: a focus on doing things that are often considered routine and household, a proximity to nature, and expectancy–rather than expectations– of relationships.
But far be it from my posts to meander in metaphysics…
Instead–especially in this day of educational rigor, relevance, and relationships–I will comment on the explanation of relationships to the protagonist, Mack. First the passage from pages 122-123:
“We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually, this is your problem, not ours.”
“Really? How so?”
“Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could work or live together without someone being in charge.”
“But every human institution that I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of thinking; it is the web of our social fabric,” Mack asserted.
“Such a waste!” said Papa, picking up the empty dish and heading for the kitchen.
“It’s one reason why experiencing true relationship is difficult for you,” Jesus added. “Once you have a hierarchy, you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you.”
This is an ideal example of how relationships should and could work. But the ideal often stands in stark opposition to the rules-based, hierarchical governance structures especially found in public institutions.
As we strive to affect Professional Learning Communities in our schools, the ideal is certainly worthy of consideration and conversation. It is predicated upon shared vision, common cause, and a culture of trust.
The twist is how to infuse the much vaunted term of our era–accountability–into that structure without dampening relationships.
The accountability has to shift from an external imposition to an internal habit. In other words, accountability in relationships has to become personal.
Therefore, true Professional Learning Communities–relationships–will be most effective with the characteristics of shared vision, common cause, a culture of trust, and personal accountability.
I would venture to say that the best schools already have these characteristics in play.
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The North Carolina Teachers Working Conditions Survey is done every two years. The most recent one was completed in June ’08. The results give an inside look as to how schools are running.
One of our schools, Croatan High School, is noted as being the number four high school in the state as far as academics go. Recently, Croatan was recognized by U. S. News and World Report as being among the best high schools in the nation.
It is little wonder that Croatan’s results from the Teacher Working Conditions Survey 2008 are off the charts.