Sounds great!! But will it work? Statements of Duty are not exactly a recent invention. And when and where have they worked before? After almost 50 years in education I am personally hard pressed to recall any successful use of this approach.
There are some potential conflicts in this process
- Improvements are achieved in context and contexts vary from place to place and moment to moment. Will the SoDs cover all possible contexts? From their initial responses, some Principals seem to have doubts.
- Network Leaders are given the role associated with their position. But leadership is fundamentally a dynamic aspect of (working) relationships. It is rarely (if ever) one-sided within healthy productive relationships. No doubt some Network Leaders will understand this and act accordingly. Others may not.
- But perhaps the greatest potential conflict will be within the Principals who are subject to the SoDs. To be successful, Principals need to ensure that the schools have a strong sense of life (energy and capacity) and purpose (important things to achieve). But will the "waters of life" for the school and its people be found in the SoDs?
By some accounts Carl Jung’s favourite story went something like this.
“A tribe sent seekers out into the desert searching for the Water of Life. The Water showed itself in the world by bubbling forth from an artesian well. After a long journey the seekers came upon the well and drank from its invigorating waters. They felt life surge through them and were truly satisfied.
They sent for the tribe, which soon arrived. There were many people gathered around the spring, so a wall was built to protect the purity of its crystal water. As the people arrived shops and buildings sprang up. Roads were built. Eventually to organise access and pay for the necessary administrative costs a charge was made for drinking from the vitalising waters. Still the people came.
And then one day the people woke up and the Water of Life had gone. Water still flowed, but it was not the Water of Life. People drank, but in time realised their loss.
The people sent seekers out and the cycle began again.”
Sound familiar? Is there an alternative? One proven approach is to reach agreement that the everyone's "SoD" is to
- Know what is happening,
- Work with others to improve what is happening,
- Make it easier for the next person (and all of us) to do well