Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Mantra of Great Schools


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 I just started reading The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.  Though the book is subtitled, The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, I can see already that there are many lessons and suggestions discussed that apply to schools.

One of Guy's first steps is to make mantra.  By that, he means to write down, in a very short phrase, what you do and have that be the repeatable phrase you chant (either out loud or internally) over and over again.

For example, Guy illustrates his point by providing a few mantras from established companies.
  • Nike: Authentic athletic performance
  • Disney: Fun family entertainment
  • Starbucks: Rewarding everyday moments (pg. 7) 
Mantras should not be confused with tag lines.  As Guy points out, the mantra is for the EMPLOYEES (teachers, administrators, staff members); a guide for what they do.  Tag lines, on the other hand, are for the customers (students, families); a guide for how to use your service (education).  While Nike's mantra is "Authentic athletic performance." Its tag line is "Just do it" (pg. 8)

What would be the mantra of great schools?  What about tag lines?  Here are a few ideas.  Feel free to submit your own in the comments below.

Mantras:
  • Preserve democracy.
  • Create the future.
  • Encourage scholarship.
  • Lead growth.
Tag Lines:
  • Explore the world.
  • Discover new questions.
  • Create knowledge.
  • Get better.
These mantras and tag lines were written for schools and students, but the same exercise applies to any part of the school.  What is the Math department's mantra?  The soccer team?  The Service Club?  The lunch program?
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