Trust The Children

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Servant Leadership and Education at Home

I heard the words, "Understand your purpose, which is to build the group AND get the job done." The venue was staff training for a youth leadership summer camp our sons will be attending this summer. This idea resonated with me, as I remembered Stephen Covey talking about "P and PC" which is Production and Production Capability. Sometimes we go so overboard on getting the job done that we walk over people to do so. Sometimes we consider the "developmental side" of the person so much, the job never gets done. The persistent question is, "how do I balance the two?"

This balance is also a concern for parents who educate at home. Parents whose frame of reference is limited to the public education model they experienced as a youth, understandably tend to be performance or "get the job done" oriented. Keeping up with the local school curriculum, or using curriculums in general are in part, a response to this "Aren't I supposed to be DOING something" drive in these homes. Their feeling is that education is something YOU do TO your child. You... educate... them. That is, after all what happened as you attended public school. The teacher educated you. Their job was to tell you what you needed to learn. Your job was to listen, repeat back, and if you repeated it back well enough, you got a high grade. The result in this case, becomes more important than the process. It is the results driven, production driven, weighted heavily toward the "get the job done" mantra of some business models.

Our children, conditioned by this environment, make excellent cogs in the machine of business and commerce. After all, who can argue with results? Never mind that the production machine created in this environment remains conspicuously dependent on some source outside of themselves for progress and direction. Never mind that they often check their brains, motivation and risk mentality at the door of their employment, just as they did when they attended school. Fit in, don't make waves and get the job done. "Good little employees."

At the other end of the balance is a focus on "ever learning, but never never getting off your dime." Polish the machine, but rarely, if ever, use it, because you have to clean it up again. It is the starching and pressing of your basketball uniform for hours during the week, so that you look good for the friday game you never prepared to play by practicing and using skills. This place, builds on an outward show, with little substance or results for the effort. Going through wonderful and beautiful motions, while marching in place if marching at all.

In business, I have come to believe that striking the balance comes of employing a "Servant Leader" approach. Once objectives and vision for the company have been set by management, each individual is expected to align their goals to support. However, in the doing of the work, a servant leader stands ready to do all, to enable success, without, of course, doing the work themselves. The servant leader is about establishing, increasing and solidifying the skills and attributes that team members need to succeed at their part of the puzzle. Performance is still expected of course. AND as the servant leader works to provide support, tools and guidance, performance capability in the individual is improved. Servant leadership blends the best of "building the team" and "getting the job done."

This same principle can also be true at home. Servant "home schooling" combines the reality that your children are responsible for their part of the family education model. They have some things they must get done. They are also greatly benefitted in getting THEIR JOB DONE, by parents whose vision is to assist their children by building in them skills and attributes, one step at a time, so that the kids actually accomplish for themselves what is expected of them. It is done by them.

This process works better, IF in the younger years, the educational model between parents and children is one of parents listening for and responding to natural curiosity. Enabling the exploration of topics the children are already interested in, helps your children see, at a young age, that you are there to enable then as they delve into and expand their interests in .... well their interests. To me, this goes hand in hand with the idea of Unit Studies. The great thing about establishing this Unit Studies habit, centered about the natural curiosities of your children, is that, the record they create in the process, they can and will return to after many years have flown by.

Do you get the idea of Servant Leadership? Do you get how it could apply to home education?


  • Servant Leadership is a powerful idea wherever you are. Helping people to grow while getting the job done is a never-ending, always-inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking task. Thanks for all of your wonderful posts. [That's my dad!]

    By Blogger Allison Weiss, at 9:56 PM, March 19, 2006  

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