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AIS Executive Conference May 2007 Spiritual dimensions in schools: linking values and ethos to the lifeworld of the school Leoni Degenhardt Loreto Normanhurst.

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Presentation on theme: "AIS Executive Conference May 2007 Spiritual dimensions in schools: linking values and ethos to the lifeworld of the school Leoni Degenhardt Loreto Normanhurst."— Presentation transcript:

1 AIS Executive Conference May 2007 Spiritual dimensions in schools: linking values and ethos to the lifeworld of the school Leoni Degenhardt Loreto Normanhurst

2 Definitions  Spirituality relating to or affecting the human spirit as opposed to material or physical things  Faith complete trust or confidence; strong belief in a religion; a system of religious belief  Religion belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods; a particular system of faith and worship Oxford Compact English Dictionary

3 Ontological perspectives…  How do YOU see reality?  What is the metaphor you use to describe a school? your school? a factory? a community? an army?a business? a familya nation-state?  Your metaphor will shape your actions

4 My ontological perspective… a living systems view of organisations

5 ‘the fundamental nature of reality is relationships, not things’ ‘a living system has the capacity to create itself’ (Senge et al., 2000, p.52-3)

6 Sergiovanni the ‘lifeworld’ of the school is based on its unique values and purposes, and ideally dictates the shape of the ‘systemsworld’ of structures and plans. (Sergiovanni, 2000, p.21)

7 The ideal…. a holistic paradigm of education, which places the development and growth of the individual, within a community context, as the highest value and ultimate purpose of education

8 Overarching paradigm MEANING… coherence, purpose

9 Purpose  All human beings have a need for purpose. We need to feel that our work has value, that we make a difference.  The most important task of a leader is to constantly clarify and articulate the purpose of the organisation.

10 The purpose of education… Education…’should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.’ (Gatto, 1992 p.75)

11 The purpose of education This is quite a different understanding of the purpose of education from that emanating from an economic-rationalist paradigm. It focuses on the whole child, within his/her context, but also has a transcendent, spiritual quality, based on strong values.

12 Values  Values give the whole school community a defined philosophy and purpose…a unifying set of meanings which can allow us to transcend the detail and issues which divide any group of human beings.  People need to believe in something in order to ennoble what they do and to transcend the differences between them. The role of a leader is to help the group find this within and among themselves.


14 School’s values and ethos  What are your school’s stated values?  How are they lived out?  How wide is the gap between lived and espoused values?  Who says?

15 ‘The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-first Century’, 1999 Schooling provides a foundation for young Australians’ intellectual, physical, social, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development. By providing a supportive and nurturing environment, schooling contributes to the development of students’ sense of self-worth, enthusiasm for learning and optimism for the future…[and] a socially cohesive and culturally rich society.

16 Addressing spirituality in the curriculum can mean reawakening students to a sense of awe and wonder. This can involve deepening a sense of connection to the cosmos. (Miller, Selia, & Denton, 2005)

17 Relationships within the school  Care  Respect for students as whole people  Respect for staff as whole people  Hierarchies among staff? Students? Parents?  Respect for parents

18 Structures  Pastoral care  Care of staff  Decision-making

19 Structures  Is the importance of the spiritual dimension reflected in the structures within your school?  Timetable?  Leadership structure?  Professional development?

20 Rituals The relative lack of ritual and tradition, and the ‘spiritual anorexia’ referred to by Carr-Gregg (2004) in modern Australian society, means that there is often no strong basis of values on which young people can ground themselves, their outlook and their decisions (Groome, 1998; McGillion, 2003). Social commentators and theologians describe a growing spiritual hunger among the population in general but less allegiance to organised religion (Jones, 1998; McGillion, 2003; O'Murchu, 1995, 1997; Tacey, 2000). Degenhardt (2006)

21 Rituals  Prayer and liturgy  Assemblies  In times of celebration  In times of sorrow  Beginnings and endings

22 Education in the spiritual  Is this just confined to Religious Education lessons?  How can a spiritual dimension be incorporated into more areas of school life?

23 Social justice/community service  The tangible outcome of a spiritual approach to life  How does this happen in your school?

24 Approaches to leadership Some relevant leadership frameworks ….  Level 5 leadership  Authentic leadership

25 Level 5 leadership  Personal humility +  Fierce professional resolve (Collins, 2001)

26 Authentic leadership Authentic leadership is centrally concerned with ethics and morality and with deciding what is significant, what is right and what is worthwhile…An important characteristic of authenticity for leaders is the search for personal purpose and relational meaning in contemporary life. This emphasis on meaning in life and work is increasingly associated with a search for spirituality by individuals, groups, even organisations. (p.2-3) (Duignan, 2003)

27 Spirituality and the principal Passion and passivity

28 Passion Passion - a sense of purpose  We have a commitment to young people  We want to make the world a better place  We spend ourselves to make this happen

29 Passivity Passivity – letting go, finding balance  prayer life  family/friends  exercise  leisure  love what you do  find God in what you do

30 Some tips…personal  Make time for regular prayer and stillness with God. This ensures that you do not lose the ultimate focus  Remind yourself often why you are in this role, and therefore doing what you do for its own sake, not for praise or approval  Know that you can always walk away ie I choose to be here  Enjoy young people  Have kids, at home and/or at school, who make fun of you….gently  Book season’s tickets to the theatre/concerts. That way the dates are already in the diary.  Keep two weekends per term absolutely free, so that we can get right away from it all.  Book into a hotel for the night after a school function on the weekend. It turns half a weekend into a holiday.  Make time just to sit and talk with partner and/or family  Make time for friends. For me this often has to be planned many weeks in advance  Take at least one week to “refuel” in each student vacation, and longer in summer break.  See what you do as in some small way adding to God’s Kingdom  Do a PhD study…when it’s finished, it’s such a relief everything seems easier!!!

31 Some tips…professional  Make sure you have a Personal Assistant who is trustworthy, efficient and appropriately protective  Surround yourself with great people and trust them implicitly. If you haven’t got great people, treat them as if they were. They will often become great.  Listen to good news stories from the staff and being inspired by them  When you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself to break the tasks into small pieces and go one step at a time  Take time to look back and appreciate how much you have achieved already!  Keep real. Interact closely with students, and teach a class if possible  Have a “learning partner” - another Head who is a friend. Meet for dinner each term to share ideas, strategies, hopes, joys and frustrations in an atmosphere of great trust. It is often consoling to realise how universal one’s difficulties are.  Read stimulating material which makes you uncomfortable/makes you question your assumptions

32 A final thought Our work as educators can be compared to that of the builders of the great cathedrals in Europe. In some cases these took up to two and a half centuries to build. Generations of master builders and stonemasons never got to see the end product of their work. Yet they had a vision of what it was that they were about and worked with passion to achieve it. In working with young people we rarely see the ultimate fruits of our labours. Yet what work could be more noble than that of helping young minds and hearts to develop and blossom. We are fortunate to have work as meaningful and challenging as we do.

33 And a final poem… Fire What makes a fire burn Is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, Too many logs Packed in too tight Can douse the flames Almost as surely as a pail of water can. So building fires Requires attention To the space in between, As much as to the wood. Judy Brown

34 Some hopefully useful resources Beare, H. (2001). Creating the Future School: student outcomes and the reform of education. London: Routledge Falmer. Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2001). Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Carr-Gregg, M. (2004). Why Adolescence is Harder in 2004 than in 1974. Lights Out, 17(3), 1- 2. Collins, J. (2001). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 79(1), 67-76. Delors, J. (1996). Learning: the Treasure Within. Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. Paris: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Duignan, P. (2003). Leading in an age of paradox and dilemma. In APAPDC (Ed.), Leaders Lead: Beyond the lost sandshoe (pp. 12-16). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Forbes, S. H. (2003). Holistic Education: An Analysis of Its Ideas and Nature. Brandon, VT: Foundation for Gatto, J. T. (1992). Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.Educational Renewal. Greenleaf, R. (1977). Servant Leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press. Groome, T. (1998). Educating for Life: a spiritual vision for every teacher and parent. Allen, Texas: Thomas More. Halpern, B. L., & Lubar, K. (2003). Leadership Presence: Gotham Books.

35 Kessler, R. (2000). The Soul of Education: helping students find connection, compassion and character at school. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Miller, J. P., Selia, K., & Denton, D. (Eds.). (2005). Holistic Learning and Spirituality in Education. Albany. Miller, J. P. (2000). Education and the Soul: towards a spiritual curriculum. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, (MCEETYA). (1999). The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved 8 November 2005, from Moore, T. (1992). Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life (HarperPerennial ed.). New York: HarperCollins. O'Murchu, D. (1995). Our World in Transition: making sense of a changing world. Sussex: Temple House. O'Murchu, D. (1997). Reclaiming Spirituality. Dublin: Gateway. Palmer, P. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness. The Journey Toward an Undivided Life: Welcoming the Soul and Weaving Community into a Wounded World. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Sergiovanni, T. (2000). The Lifeworld of Leadership: creating culture, community, and personal meaning in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Starratt, R. J. (2003). Centering Educational Administration. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Tacey, D. (2000). Re-Enchantment: the New Australian Spirituality. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins.

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