Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who 'Holds the Power" in Catholic Education?

I Am an Ant by Ken Willers

Once Upon a Time, there was an apprentice ant who was interrupted from his studies by the elder ant who asked him,
            "On the basis of what you've been taught, who are you?"
The apprentice ant thought for a moment and said,
            "I have learned that in comparison to the rest of the world I am very small."
            "Very Good!" The elder ant replied and before leaving he told the apprentice ant to continue his studies.
           
            A year past and the apprentice ant grew in size and knowledge. It came to pass that the same elder ant came to him again, interrupted his studies and asked him,
            "On the basis of what you've been taught, who are you?"
The apprentice ant thought for a moment and said,
            "I have learned that not only am I very small in comparison to the rest of the world, but I am also able to carry many times my own weight."
            "Very Good!" The elder ant replied and before leaving he told the apprentice ant to continue his studies.

            Now, many years had past and the apprentice ant had grown even more in size and knowledge. On the day the apprentice ant finished his training the elder ant came to him again, interrupted his studies and asked him,
            "On the basis of what you've been taught, who are you?"
The ant thought for a moment and said,
            "I have learned that not only am I very small in comparison to the rest of the world, or able to carry many times my own weight, I know, that I Am An Ant!"

            The elder ant was horrified by this for he had never heard this teaching before. The elder ant asked the once apprentice ant where he learned this, the young ant responded,
            "I have come to this knowledge on my own."

            Outraged by this perceived ant's arrogance the elder ant had him killed for he was afraid this new knowledge would spread throughout the colony.




Reflection on “I Am A Ant”

Leadership in Catholic Education is not about who holds the power to validate, but rather who holds the responsibility to inspire and encourage.

When the need for validation is not present. When those in authority are being questioned or when the “stamp” of their approval is not sought some administrators feel threatened and insecure.

Unless something is done to restore the hierarchy of order, show “who’s boss” or demonstrate power, the one in charge feels it necessary to remove the “arrogant” student, teacher or parent so the breakdown in perceived authority doesn’t spread.

In my experience, I have watched teachers become completely intimidated by 12 and 13 year old students who question their authority. I have watched administrators become completely unwilling to accept better ideas from subordinates because of the fear of being perceived weak or wrong.

Leadership in Catholic Education is not about who holds the power to validate, but rather who holds the responsibility to inspire and encourage.

Leadership among educators in the classroom is about drawing out of students their yearning to know who they are and inspiring them to take risks with the gifts they possess. Even if that means they challenge the educator’s status quo approach to instruction.

Leadership among administrators is about inspiring educators to view their role as teachers as a sacred ministry and a holy vocation, called by God to serve the young. Even if that means the administrator shares leadership with colleagues who’s expertise surpassing his or her own.

Leadership in Catholic Education should not be viewed as a role of authority but rather a ministry of service. Our intention should not be one to validate those who follow us but rather to inspire. Thus, leadership is not about Validation but rather about Vision. For it is only with Vision that one can lead.

As educators and administrators we have one of the most awesome and humbling responsibilities—we mentor our students to find their own identity and we mentor our teachers and staff to find their own source of ministry. Our role as educators or administrators is to provide a vision that can affirm and inspire those we are called to serve.

Question for reflection:
As an educator or administrator how do you hold this honor?


When your authority is challenged how do you respond?


In what ways do you seek validation?


In what ways do you require others seek your validation?


What is your vision for your classroom/school?


How do you share your leadership and with whom?


Are there students or colleagues who have been “eliminated” by your fear that you need to pray for or seek reconciliation with?