“The problem is that most schools don’t like great teachers. They’re organized to stamp them out, bore them, bureaucratize them, and make them average.” -- Seth Godin
How many educators do you know that try to change the system of education? How many educators do you know that just stick to the status quo? How are these two different types of people treated by school and district leaders?
As a principal, I want people who challenge the education system and take risks to benefit our kids. I want people that say the way we have always done things is not the best way. I want people who reflect on current structures and practices and say to themselves: is this what is best for kids? I cannot recall who stated this but if we continue to do what we have always done, we will get what we have always had. To me, that’s not good enough.
In the past year, I have spoken to a number of people who are trying to create change in their classrooms and in the schools but have been told to “toe the line” both by administrators and colleagues. These important educators have been told to follow their lizard brain and conform, comply and follow instructions. Does this sound familiar? Is this what many schools also teach our kids? Is this what we actually want in our education system?
It is EASY to do what has always been done. When you do this, you rarely get criticized and you rarely even get noticed; you please the resistance. What is difficult to do is to be the one to change the system - to challenge the current norms and to be what Seth Godin calls a “Linchpin”. A linchpin is someone who is indispensable; someone who fights the resistance and uses their creativity to live on the edge of the box. “The linchpin feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceeds.”
We need to be teaching students to not just “do school” but to take risks, try new initiatives and become indispensable. What better way to teach students this than to model this as educators? Now I realize that we have laws that govern education but as leaders and teachers, how can we work WITH our passionate staff and students who are taking risks, challenging the ‘truths’ and norms, and changing the education system?
Godin asks the question: “Would your organization be more successful if your employees were more obedient? Or, consider for a second: would you be more successful if your employees were more artistic, motivated, connected, aware, passionate, and genuine?”.
What kind of school culture do you want? How are you providing your staff with the autonomy to fight their lizard brain and challenge the status quo? Do you silence or encourage the voices of change?
How do you lead with your Linchpins?