Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Lesson for Educational Leadership

Another Biblical Parallel to the World of Education

Most books have the ability to awaken one’s imagination. The Bible, through God, has the ability to awaken one’s reality on a completely different level. I’ve once again sensed this power, as God has uniquely given me a parallel in the Old Testament, in the man of Nehemiah. 
Like Nehemiah in his quest to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, I’m journeying to find the optimal approach to education. I plan to start in the same way as Nehemiah, with a purpose and a passion.
Much of Nehemiah’s example can be applied to chasing a goal of any kind, but I’ll specifically apply it in terms of educational leadership.

Purpose and Passion
Nehemiah was so concerned about the broken down Jerusalem walls that he “mourned and fasted and prayed”. He was deeply concerned that without these walls his people would lose their God-given identity, purpose and hope.
This divinely aligns with the burden I feel for the kids in today’s schools. Based on your personal experience, you can determine for yourself the state of the figurative walls of our educational system. But I must believe they’re at the very least vulnerable; and at their very worst, crumbled ruins. As long as the protection, support, and encouragement of these walls are absent, so too are a child’s God-given identity, purpose and hope missing.
So, what did Nehemiah do with his load of passion? Knowing the only way to reach entire restoration, Nehemiah began to fervently pray, confessing and repenting. The result was that when the door was open for action, he was more than prepared, knowing exactly what needed to happen. It’s almost comical the laundry list of requests Nehemiah makes to the king. Not surprisingly, the king grants them without hesitation (Nehemiah 2:4-9).
This example of thorough reflection and preparation is what schools need on every level. Legislators, administrators, and teachers are so quick to act on what’s perceived to be a quick fix or a step in the right direction. See Common Core State Standards, the most recent teacher evaluation systems, schools’ approach to intervention, and the list goes on.
-Reflect Constantly- 

Common Vision
Nehemiah was continuously working hard to maintain a common vision amongst every individual involved, no matter leader or laborer. He always gave each person support from the whole and reminded them of the purpose! Nehemiah had to fight hard to eliminate all traces of personal greed in the project. He recognized that the task God had assigned was far too important to allow distractions to interfere with its work.
            The sense of community and maintaining a common vision is possibly the most important concept to the education system, but it’s also the most difficult to achieve. The vision varies in every state, district, school building, and down to every classroom. We must be reminded of the purpose and eliminate greed and distractions that prevent the possibilities of the purpose.
            This reminds me of a quote from The Alchemist. “A shepherd may like to travel, but he should never forget about his sheep.” In its current state, educational leadership is enamored with trending methods or the latest popular resources. I’m afraid we’re forgetting the children.