Posted by: kbater | November 22, 2010

The power to influence change

“Schools cannot do it alone” – Jamie Vollmer – talking with trustees at the Alberta School Boards general meeting.  Jamie says – “Your have the power to effect change.”  He also said there are moments when we are much more awake, much more alive for him one moment was the birth of his son. These times help you to understand that your job is to help your child unfold to their full potential.  

Trustees job is to support all students in this process and to be leaders in our communities to shine the focus on this moral imperative. He suggested that as school we’ve done it for some but we haven’t done it for everyone.

Schools used to do a really good job of meeting societies needs because we only needed a few thinkers as our primary need was a big slug of doers.

Jamie identified the roots of education in North America go back to 1781 when Thomas Jefferson in his State of Virginia stated that the purpose of our schools is to rake the genius from the rubbish.  Jefferson created the 1st boards,schools, and curriculum in the U.S.A  

This type of thinking seemed to work for a long time as we used to be a place for dropouts to drop-in – lots of unskilled job. Today’s world is becoming quite different.

Jamie also talked about engagement.  He said we cannot move forward and create the schools we need until we take an active role in engaging our community so they will allow us to develop the full potential of each child

He also suggested we need to build a conversation – a thoughtful proactive conversation with people in our communities.

Vollmer suggested four goals for trustees:

1)      Right now when the new education act is being considered – we need better community understanding – they need to understand the problems we face – all the things that have been added to the school responsibility – shift from industrial age to knowledge age – help them see that this is good for citizens and taxpayers – appeal to their self-interest – a cut against education is a cut against your quality of life

2)      We need to re-establish trust – take a step towards the community so they understand the stake.  He coined the term – Nostigia – 50% nostalgia and 50% amnesia – there was never a golden age – we live with old myths about how it used to be better

3)      We can do it differently – we have to change the way we group kids, we have to change the amount of time kids spend at school – some need more time, some need less time. The farther the decision maker is from the child the dumber the decision.  Get permission to do it differently

4)      Get community support – from a place of understanding and trust the community gets involved and supports public education. We also need support for a transformative approach such as outlined in the Inspiring Education process and also in the work of school boards.

Building a new approach

We need to do all of this by creating an informal conversation which again has four steps.

1)      Shift your attention from the negative to positive – what you put your attention to grows – positive energy creates more energy

2)      Stop bad mouthing one another and your schools in public

3)      Share something positive with your neighbours – look for things to share with your neighbours – the good you do and the welfare of the community – put positive things into your social network (get admin, teachers, school councils and currently involved citizens to do this)

4)      Monitor your progress and from that feedback increase your efforts.

The Education Act process is time to get the crucial value of education out to the public. 

Today – What’s moral is now practical – trustees have the power to bring community together to pursue this moral purpose together.


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