Circle of Relationship

haulin netOne 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.

*          *          *

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.


3 Responses to Circle of Relationship

  1. Glenn says:

    Thanks for the good post. The world–and especially young people–need a much more personal and relational experience, rather than an institutional experience. I would add that small schools, perhaps like those being implanted in New York at the urging of Bill Gates, etc., will go a long way to helping the educational experience be more personal. Thanks for your good work!

  2. Gale Fitts says:

    I just received THE SHACK and am about to read it. I am looking forward to what it is about to unfold in my life. Your blog will be read by me during my reading, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. BTW: Lisa Raines left me her email address and blog website, but I am not getting through. Unfortunately, I did not leave her mine. If you are in contact with her, let her know I am trying to reach her!
    Again, I will get back to your blog when I read THE SHACK!

  3. Gale Fitts says:

    Thanks for the good post about the book, THE SHACK, and comparing it to our schools. Wouldn’t it be amazing to accomplish this in our schools? In such a full circle of trust among parents, students, teachers, staff, and administrators much learning would take place. Much wasteful negative time would be done away with. With the positive atmosphere we would see much accomplished for all. It would stem out into the community. The possibilities would be endless!!

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