Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Does Your School Believe In?

In doing my part to help liquidate the Borders store in my town, I raided the business section for titles I have been wanting to read. (As a side note, I am quite sad to see the store close)

I decided, quite happily, to choose Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh McLeodHugh, who is best known for his cartoons drawn on the backs of business cards, offers plenty of insight into embracing your creative self based on his own experiences.

There are numerous examples of his work in the book, but the one that stuck with me the most was this one.  

Generally, I find schools are good at providing examples of things to work towards.  Examples include deeper understanding of subjects, better grades, higher standardized test scores, and admission to a respected college.

There is nothing wrong with using concrete images to help provide a context for why the efforts in school are worthwhile.  These images are important and the ability to articulate that message in a way that sticks with your audience is a key element in successful schools.

On the other hand, concrete images of something(s) to believe in have been less plentiful.  As a result, I think many schools may be missing a key ingredient to establishing a culture of promise and growth.

Something to work towards is a future oriented concept.  It is something that may happen at some point.  It is something that could happen (if conditions align themselves).  Working towards something implies that it may not actually happen.

Something to believe in lives in the present.  It already exists.  If it didn't, you couldn't believe in it.  Because it already exists, it cannot NOT happen.

Having an image of what to work towards helps spark an effort to begin making a change.  Attaching something to believe in to that image makes the goal more attainable and credible.

For example - Imagining being accepted to a top college may help you accept why you are asked to do rigorous school work, but without a belief in the power hard work and dedication, the vision is incomplete.

What does your school want to work towards?  What does it believe in?  Are the answers to those two questions aligned?
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