09 October 2018

Nurturing is the Foundation

Playlist- 2 videos (7.5 min & 14.5 min).

All adults responsible for children must nurture them, where the most basic form of nurturing is supporting them to satisfy their primary human needs. 
Does that statement about adult responsibility strike you as self-evident? 
It strikes me as such, but maybe I'm wierd because of my professional training in psychology and decades of experience taking care of other people's children.
It also turns out that the foundation for effective and efficient learning is well-being which is a result of the satisfaction of the primary human needs for air, water, food, shelter, sleep, relatedness, autonomy, and competence. 
Yet, educational policy-makers do not require systemic support for meeting the primary human needs of students and teachers.
In a sense it is not their fault because these facts are not well known.
However, that failure to provide systemic need support through educational policy creates the central problem in our school system today; pervasive disengagement due to the persistent undermining of effective learning and teaching due to the lack of systemic support for well-being.
It is time for educational policy-makers to acknowledge those foundations. 

I founded Schools of Conscience to build the nurturing capacity of K-12 schools. 
Educational policy-makers need to acknowlege the proper role of primary human need support in learning. 
Here is where you can find the first draft of the resolution, a poster about the resolution, and other materials about it.
forth coming book will present a revised resolution and give more context for why it is necessary. 
If you are inspired to provide leadership on this issue within your learning community please visit our campaign guide page which explains how to conduct a campaign in support of the resolution.

Don Berg
My name is Don Berg, I am the founder of Schools of Conscience.
I am an education geek and this site is where I hope to engage with other people who like to geek out on education, too.
In the video above I tell my story of fauxchievment, how school taught me to go through the academic motions without mastering the material, and how we can stop fauxchievment from ruining the education of future students. 

08 October 2018

Educational Leadership Consulting

What is YOUR biggest problem?
The answer is disengagement. 

How do I know that?
How can an Educational Leadership Consultant presume to tell you that without knowing your staffing challenges, your behavioral issues, your demographics, your pedagogical committments, your funding woes, ets., etc.?

I know that disengagement is your biggest problem for several reasons.

First, your school has people in it.
Aren't your students and staff human?
If they are not human then I can't help you (more accurately I probably could, but I'm not interested).
I have some experience with animals (pack llamas and rats) but a lot more with humans (over two decades) and the humans hold far more fascination for me.
As a psychologist who specializes in motivation in educational contexts, I know that if you have humans in your school then my expertise is relevant. 

Next, all your other issues will be easier if more people are engaged in solving them. 
There isn't a single issue that you can tackle that would have bigger effect on your ability to solve other problems than if you could get more of your student, staff, and all other stakeholders to be more engaged.
It is their disengagement that is, ultimately, causing you (and them) grief.
If they were to become more engaged then everyone gets better at handling challenges.
If you are interested in empowering your students, staff, and all other stakeholders to solve problems then you should be interested in learning about what the science of psychology has discovered about the secrets of engagement. 

So, I know that your biggest problem is disengagement (even though you may not have realized that it was until now) because I know that 
  1. schools are populated by humans
  2. humans are fully capable of solving their own problems 
  3. schools are historically very good at causing people to disengage in both subtle and not so subtle ways (even if they have a sterling reputation for "achievement" or other kinds of excellence)
And I do not need to know all the gruesome details of your exact situation (yet) because both the problem and the solutions to it are psychological, not pedagogical, demographic, behavioral, etc.

Educational Leadership Consulting

I can also assure you that our approach to Educational Leadership Consulting will help you solve a variety of problems simultaneously because once the psychology is properly supported then the people with problems get very interested in taking practical steps to solving them. 

In the later stages of Educational Leadership Consulting we will take more of an interest in the larger issues beyond your school that limit your opportunities, but that is only after we've proven that we can make effective change within the school.

The over-all Educational Leadership Consulting framework for change is what I call a Fauxchievement Prevention Program.

Fauxchievement is when you go through the motions without mastering the materials. 
The strategic focus of my work is fauxchievement because I believe it is a keystone.
A keystone is the middle stone in an arch that makes the whole structure stable. 
When you are constructing an arch it is unstable until you put the keystone in.
If you remove the keystone from an arch then the whole thing collapses. 
In this case, if you can solve the problem of fauxchievement then all the other problems that prevent you and your staff from educating your students will fall away.
Other problems may not, but educating is so central that it must be considered the most important. 
But more importantly, when you build a school system that prevents fauxchievement from being a persistent pattern then you are inserting the key component of an inherently stable and reliable foundational structure for educating students.
If you and your staff can get the educating to happen then all the other problems that occur beyond the educating will become a lot more manageable. 

How Bad Is Fauxchievement?

When students fail to attain mastery in spite of “achieving” in school, then they are fauxchieving. 
Getting into college but being unable to finish is a consequence of fauxchievement. 
That particular consequence got a lot of attention when KIPP revealed the low rate of college graduation their graduates achieved in their first College Completion Report. 
Getting into but not through college is a pernicious problem for many schools.

Howard Gardner in his 2004 book The Unschooled Mind pointed out how pervasive fauxchievement is by drawing attention to various studies that show a majority of people with advanced degrees in every subject fail to apply the most basic concepts in their fields when the problems are presented to them in ways that have more resemblance to real life and are different from the way they were regularly tested in school.
To put it another way, most masters degrees do not indicate mastery, they indicate fauxchievement. 
Two separate video series called A Private Universe (1987) and Minds of Our Own (1997) vividly demonstrated the effect and were an attempt to help teachers of math and scienceto overcome it (without my term for it). Those series were produced by a powerful consortium made up of Annenberg Media, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and the National Science Foundation.
Given the current obscurity of these videos I presume they had very limited success that did not justify further investments.

It Seems Normal, Natural, and Inevitable

Most people are not aware that fauxchievement is a major problem in schooling, although most people are well aware that many students at all levels merely go through the motions and learn less as a result. 
The fact is, they do not know what to call it (the term came from video gaming) and they assume that it is a normal, natural, and inevitable way of living through the demands that schools typically make on students' time and energy.

Take the initiative and contact me about Educational Leadership Consulting now to discuss your situation and how a Fauchievement Prevention Program can help your school educate childen better.

07 October 2018

Leadership Is Not Management

Despite popular opinion leadership and management are not the same thing.

Management is the responsibility for the survival of an organization. 
It's like our instinctual avoidance of potential dangers like fire, snakes, and spiders and our attraction to food, shelter, and sex. 
Good management takes care of the fundamentals that ensure the survival of the organization, like generating revenues, reducing costs, and increasing surpluses (known as profits in the business realm.)

Leadership is the ability to meet the needs of those who make up the organization, those who depend on the organization, and other organizations. 
This is like our attraction to good stories, music and fine cuisine. 
These kinds of desires do not just meet the fundamental needs they fulfill higher needs, as well. 
When we align the meeting of both our lower survival needs with higher aesthetic and social needs, then we have done more than manage our survival, we have attained thrival.

Art of Leadership

The art of leadership in organizations is about skillfully meeting the variety of needs within and without the organization into a seamless, graceful flow. 
A true leader knows what the management issues are but also has a sense that there are ways to accomplish those basic survival tasks in more inspired ways. 
They look for the opportunities to achieve an artful balance between their aesthetic values and the organizational imperatives that constrain their expression.

Leadership is an art form, whereas management is merely a technical discipline.
Leaders can act from any position in an organization, although the opportunities to act and limits of their effectiveness may be significantly determined by the nature of their position within the power structure. 
Managers can usually only act within the constraints of their position, although a manager with acute leadership skills may be able to transcend the limits of their managerial authority.

Another way to think about it is that leaders are primarily concerned with the organization's attitude in the world, how it is oriented in relation to both the people that make it up an the community of organizations that it deals with.
On the other hand the manager is primarily concerned with the state of the organization and whether it will survive. 
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber provide a good model that provides guidance on balancing leadership and management in organizations

The E-Myth model posits the need for three fundamental roles that need to be filled in any successful organization.
The manager, the entrepreneur, and the technician. 
  • The manager is primarily concerned with the here and now, making sure things are being accounted for properly and customers are being served effectively. 
  • The technician is primarily concerned with doing the best work that can be done, which tends to focus on the past as a benchmark.
  • The entrepreneur is concerned with the future, how to grow the business, and contributing to the wider world. 

These roles all have negative sides when they lose touch with each other. 
The technician will endlessly perfect the system if the manager doesn't help him stay focused on the fact that they have ever more customers and the entrepreneur doesn't keep creating new challenges.
The entrepreneur will throw resources at dreams if the manager doesn't help him stay focused on the fact that the resources are limited and the technician keeps him connected to the realities of their core business.
The manager will obsess on accounting for every little detail if the entrepreneur doesn't keep him stretching into new opportunities and the technician doesn't help maintain the focus on getting real work done.

While the E-Myth was developed for businesses it is applicable to any organization. 
The key is balance.
Without balancing the different needs that both individuals and organization's have and the different roles that they both play, then problems are inevitable.

Throughout this site you can learn more about how to apply leadership in education.