Thursday, November 11, 2010

Speak Truth To Kings

"We speak the truth and are councilors to kings," spake the Druids. Or, at least, that's my recollection of a quote from Louis L'Amour's The Walking Drum, one of the best stories ever told. In my role as an education specialist for a regional education service center, the role of speaking truth to power, advising school districts never fit the quote perfectly. What a wonderful opportunity to ride in on a white horse, shatter illusions with a wave of a golden sword, bloodying the nose of the infidels with my buckler...yeah, those were the days!

The quote came to mind when I stumbled on these words at a blog entry that came to me via Buzz, that most unpredictable source of content since I don't "know" anyone really, not like Plurk, Twitter and Facebook. Here's what George Barna writes in "Must Truth be Tempered?"
Honesty is more important to me than popularity. My desire is to inform leaders about the way things are, and my belief is that a genuine leader prefers truth to sugar-coated niceties or carefully shaded presentations. 
My approach has been to put the pieces on the table and let leaders refashion the puzzle as they see fit. In my way of thinking, that’s what leaders do; all they need is accurate information about conditions and options so they can make decisions and get others involved in the solutions.
The writing fundamentally reflects my initial perspective on administration and teachers. The teacher perspective--the right, correct view--sees the aims of education to serve children. Anything that gets in the way of that is sophistry, lies, and deception unworthy of finding a place in schools today. It's no surprise that teachers are disillusioned with leaders, because this is what many "leaders" deal in today. They have THEIR way of doing things, and teachers have their's. Often, the teacher approach is focused on dialogue, adherence to standards and approaches that work...a practitioner's perspective.

For administrators, that perspective is flawed, failing to reflect the nuances of work amidst complex, human relationships. . .and, like police, they see what happens when teachers fail to live up to the ideals that motivate them. These dark truths force them to make decisions that few teachers would respect or uphold. When a leader and teachers agree, there is shock and outcry.

Putting the skunk on the table, dealing with the problems in forthright manner is one approach. Yet, it presumes that the problems--and their solutions--are as easy as 1-2-3, a progression of errors that can be fixed. Administrators often know that the actions taken have little to do with the reasons that motivate teachers. It is a sad truth that reflects a jaded perspective, but one any veteran teacher has seen time and again.

How to rise above that jaundiced view? How to transcend and find the purity of purpose, the path that restores righteousness and glory to the work we are about? The answer isn't to be found in the latest book on reform, the oldest scriptural texts, or bandied about behind a close door of a Board Room.

The answer is written in the hearts of people. Dare we look?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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