My wife came home recently clutching several catalogues from computer/gadget stores. As she passed them on to me to peruse she commented, “What in these do you need?”. Now I have to admit that a large part of me would love to spend several thousands on very intentionally adding to my gadget collection but my personal budget won’t stretch that far! I am also sure that any more gadgets in the house would leave me sleeping on the couch!
My response was simply this : “There’s lots I want, but nothing I need.” I didn’t think much of this until I began preparing myself for the start of the new school term. It occurred to me that the same sentiment applies to schools. I began to wonder what a list of needs and wants would look like for my school. I soon realised that those things that schools need are most often the intangibles, those things which are rooted in people and not bought with fundraising money and school fees.
Trust, empathy, creativity, entrepreneurship, parental engagement, camaraderie amongst staff, experiential learning opportunities, open-mindedness, clear vision, strong moral and ethical compass, an atmosphere of mutual respect and a well-defined accountability system are some of the needs of schools. In the race for larger buildings, more technology, fancier sport facilities and so on, many schools seem to have lost their focus on what is truly important.
Oh yes, there is lots I want for my school but the question is, “Do I need it?”.
I hope that I don’t fall into the trap of focusing too much on the wants of my school and thereby lose touch with the reality of those things we truly need.