I'm doing a coaching and mentoring paper at Waikato Uni, it's mostly online and we have two 2-day face to face events and I have just returned from the first one.
I enjoy academia, it took me a day to get back into that slow pace where we have the luxury to thoughtfully chew on ideas and ponder. It's odd going from the crazy stupid pace that is NZ primary schools and back into that philosophical bubble where things make so much sense in your head, then you open your mouth (or write a blog) and the words barely give justice to the amazing insightful neurological connection that you have only just welded into your brain.
Typically, when I am in a room with my Principal and DP, we are racing against the clock, saying things quickly, and hoping that the knock on the door is not going to be an event that will munt the rest of the day. Meetings start off with the phrase "we've got a lot to get through' and we inevitably don't. So to be in a room with these two and having the luxury of time was, at first, unsettling. When the call was made for morning tea I felt like I hadn't been through nearly enough trauma to warrant having a break. A break? From what?
By the time day 2 came around I was in the zone, brain very relaxed. Pace slowed down with ibuprofen having stayed out late, watching live bands, drinking jugs and basically reliving my Otago youth because, hey, it wouldn't be University without those shenanigans.
I really enjoyed learning about dialogue. From the greek dialogos - – dia “across, movement” and legein “to speak"
Dialogue (which I always thought was the stuff we make kids put parenthesis around) is a super magical thing. A place where we purge and reveal our assumptions and then get into those middle spaces where (get this) ideas get bigger making the space bigger. It is this place where genius is made, where time and space are ripped apart and bleeding seams leave innovations, celebrations and general exuberance. That particular time and space will never be the same again. Socrates was great at it and he was known to sting people awake by questioning their assumptions. BANG! WAKE UP!
A mentoring course is not something I would have ever chosen to do - but when I saw those familiar philosophers staring out of the recycled powerpoint I knew that things would be okay. I can make this my own.
But I'm not actually here to talk about that. As with many courses where working with people is involved we did a Myers Briggs test. A Myers Briggs test gives you a 4 letter result and these is a possible 16 combinations. I'm a little skeptical about any tests that put people in boxes like this but bear with me...
Statistically, it turns out that, those who work in Educational Management are pretty much consistently of the J persuasion. We were made very aware of the tests limitations but it is always fun to find camaraderie with those who come out with a similar result to you. A knowing glance, at your fellow Ps is especially entertaining when you are in a room with a bunch of Js. Much discussion was held about the P and J divide.
Many Js confessed that they were naturally more in tune with the 'P ways' but that the job (educational leadership) had changed this. The demands of the job, the deadlines and so forth meant that their personality traits had to change. This saddens me, if there is any validity in the Myers Briggs theory how on earth are we going to make schools creative, spontaneous, messy, and innovative places when the majority of those who are running them do not hold this way-of-doing as a preference? Then comes the chicken and egg:
- Is it that the demands of scheduling, are so high because school management is over representative by this personality type?
- Would our schools be less 'crazy stupid paced' if there were more Ps in the driving seats?
- Would schools then become those luxurious places where time is spent slowly chewing ideas instead of running around schedules that might not need to exist?