In my last article I referenced the essential qualities of a good citizen: respect for others, accountability, and honesty. Previously I also talked to the issues of getting to what education and learning really mean, to the roots of the words in order to put proper focus on the issues.
When it comes to getting an education, what are you really doing? It is plain you are in a sort of situation, meaning you are in a certain place to do a certain deed, to set a course of beginning and middle and end in order to attain a specific goal. The roots of education show that it can mean, “to lead out, draw out, or march out.” Basically that is what you are doing when you set a course on the formal instruction pathway.
You are preparing to lead in some kind of way perhaps, in the business world, in politics, somewhere you believe your skills are needed and where you can make a difference. You draw out not only your abilities and gifts but you can also help others to draw out their talents and skills as well. It is rather like thinking about charitable giving in a positive manner- it benefits the giver and the receiver, gives both parties good feelings. There is a sense of achievement, of well-being, of bringing those good citizen qualities together.
And then there is the final, the marching out. Literally you do that at graduation, when all the hours of work, toil, labor, of midnight cramming, term papers, library research and dealing with others to achieve your goals, finally pays off. There you are in the uniform of promotion, the cap and gown, dressed up and ready to celebrate with classmates, teachers, and officials. You approach the stage, listening to Pomp and Circumstance along the way, and receive your diploma. Do as I did- display it proudly as you walk back to the seats, and smile. You have earned the attention and adulation. Enjoy it with a fine dinner, a night out, and a view to a fine future.
Perhaps you had to deal along the way, or will soon deal with, members of a school board. Maybe you will be a school board member someday. In an education situation, everyone is accountable at every level of making the goal or plan work out. No matter if you are a student, principal, teacher, school board president, school system official, or parent, you have a role to play and you need to ensure you do your part correctly. If any part of the link is broken the plan will not work and others could be held accountable for you not doing your part.
Which brings us to a focal point: the beef about the Chicago school board’s members being appointed instead of elected. There are two ways to look at this. The Mayor appoints the board, so he can be and should be held to the fine chain of being accountable for anything they do for every cent they make from us taxpayers. The members should be held accountable as well for their decisions and not be ashamed to answer questions and letters about what they do and decide.
If elected, the same applies. People have put their trust in those elected, and the now-officials need to have the courage to demonstrate their capabilities to keep the job. They need to put aside the barriers and become impartial, like good judges are, to set aside neighborhood, culture, gender, race, economic class snobbery, exclusivity of any kind, what you wear or eat or the kind of car you drive. Forget about it and leave it at the door- before you ever get to the board meetings.
Remember, it is as basic an element of service, real and genuine and sincere customer service, that you come to serve those who are in your arena, in your business, in your company. In this case, it is the students you are there to serve; they are your customers, your clients, your charges, and possibly your children. Don’t you want them to have the absolute best? Not sure what that is? Look until you find it and are satisfied, and know that it is the best that is out there.
Think of it as getting the Ferrari of education, the ultimate racing car on the finest race track in the world, and you and those kids are going to get in that finely-tuned car, with the best mechanics, pit crews, chiefs, and instructors in the world, and take that wild and wonderful drive on the path of learning. From that beginning, when the green flag drops, to the end when the checkered flags wave, you are on a fantastic journey, one which will never end if you are lucky. Sure you will cross the finish line, but on that one course of learning and study, which is but a link to the other races down the line.
Enjoy it. Live it, learn it and love it!
Divi Logan and EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2004- 2012.