I’ve had a few coaching conversations over the last few days about purpose, exploring and unravelling pathways. It’s something I revisit regularly, consider what moves me, what drives me and if how I am living aligns with my values and sense of purpose. I wonder if, after the demands of surviving through the mire of Covid and supporting communities through this, many of us are reflecting on our why, in the exhausted sigh we are taking in light of the last year or so.
It’s in the times we are prompted to question the world that coming back to the core of our being is so essential. This is something I am driven to enable others to do, to consider what this means and bring about clear ways forward, to enable them to find the next pathway in their story.
Asking questions is a key facet of life, how we create meaning and make sense of the world.
If we go back to the questions we asked so often as a child, we arrive at
I wonder how many of the parents reading this have just rolled their eyes! I have so many memories of the constant whys from my toddlers-that relentless quest to understand, an adventure of discovery, where even the most mundane becomes magnificent- an enigma, I mean why do we have wooden and plastic spoons? Why do we use cutlery indeed? Why do we have clocks?
These often lead to different questions, and down inevitable rabbit holes. but they all contribute to the whole:
Why Learn? Why education? How often do you ponder these questions? How often have you discussed this with colleagues? How often with children, parents and community?
So many of us feel the relentless drive to be an educator-why? We can probably provide an answer to this, but how often have we dug deeply into the philosophy of learning and education that resides somewhere deep inside us, that may not yet have found words to bring it into being? How often do we find the time? Often we’ll be rooted in a narrative about making a difference…why? What is the difference and why is it needed? Sometimes that why can be uncomfortable…why do we need to change things?
If we consider that schools, institutions of learning are an intrinsic component of society’s structure in our 21st Century world, where, now more than ever, people in power, as well as parents and the wider world are recognising and articulating the need for children to attend school, and recognising the inequalities in life experiences…
What is the why?
It would seem the absolute right time to get this in focus right now and have a clear sense of not only your own whys, but those of others.
The answers to these questions might be great foundations to consider the impact we seek that should then fuel our labours – the key to meaning and relevance. For so long we’ve seen how the things we measure can obscure, some of our whys- or do they? I suppose that depends where you sit. I’m not saying evaluation isn’t important. Surely it’s about knowing why we’re measuring and how this can support our why, rather than letting it hijack our why, until it becomes obscured in the ivy of someone else’s why.
Once we have a clear sense of why, the clouds clear on our vision of impact, what we are aiming for – then we can consider how we will know this, consider the best ways to measure or evaluate this and then decide how to make it happen.
I re-read Covey’s Seven Habits and considered all of this in terms of getting the right ladder for the job, and making sure it’s against the right wall for what we need to achieve.
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Stephen R Covey
My, current work is inspiring me to explore this with a fantastic team of educators. They are teaching me as much about myself as they are learning in the process.
I love exploring these deep questions creatively, building visions-actual concrete versions (well, play doh versions with a bit of Lego joining in) and really encouraging deep connection with the why.
How often do you ask the questions
‘Why do we go to school? Why learn? Why educate?’
Leading on from this, Why are we doing this? Why does it matter?
Perhaps some great discussion starters and a great way to ground yourselves and community in a clear sense of meaningful purpose.