Upon this occasion of turning thirty-four, I have deigned to lower myself to speak with the hoi-polloi, and therefore, they will receive the benefit of my wisdom. Or, in other words, here are a few thoughts about this year and what I have learned. To me, this year has been all about leadership – in every sense of the word – the discussions at school, the machinations as part of the RFS, even the leadership that is show on TV in The West Wing which is all that i’ve been watching lately – all of it has been grist to the mill as I consider what it actually means to be a leader. So I guess my advice could be condensed down to three key words: Leadership, Change and Disappointment.
Change- it’s been a year of changes – some of them good, some of them pretty ordinary, as we struggle to make our lives more vital, more relevant, more just. I’ve been thinking a lot, as you might imagine, about education, about teaching and learning. Big thoughts about the purpose of school and the value of it. How schools operate and why they do it the way that they do. What you could change, if you wanted to. How you encourage people to change their practice and instead do what you think is right. The value of making people change versus bringing them with you.
And finally, disappointments. There have been more than a few disappointments this year, on both a personal and a professional level. The personal ones are not worth talking about in this forum, but the professional ones are perhaps. They’re linked to change – or the failure to change. Damaged relationships and not-quite friendships. Failures at school and at university. Still, in the words of Sinatra, enough.Too few to mention.
And a final thought: the things that we pretend to be, we often end up becoming – often quite unintentionally. I think it’s because people expect us to act in a certain way, and so we do, and before we know it, it becomes habit. Something about the formational experiences we have when we’re young ultimately shaping us to be the adults that we are.