Musings on education
Something new each week starting soon
Is it possible to pay school administrators too much?
OK, it's a catchy title meant to hook you, but follow my logic. I started thinking about this possibility while reading articles on CEOs' pay and the role of incentives in Harvard Business Review. I then wondered if the ideas held validity in schools.
Research shows that money ranks 5th or even 6th for people in management when asked "What do you care about?"
W. Edward Deming famously declared that "pay is not a motivator". (He also said "Forces of Destruction: grades in school, merit system, incentive pay, business plans, quotas.")
Dan Pink went further in "Drive" by saying "The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table: Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about the work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose."
Simple enough: enough money takes money off the table.
However, is it possible to pay people so much that the potential LOSS of their high salary puts money back on the table?
In other words, if they are paid above market value, do they fear losing that incredible salary?
What would you do if you really wanted to keep your job because of the salary? How would this affect your actions, your decisions?
In any school, policy is set by the Board and then carried out by the administration. There is ample room for risk-taking, starting new endeavours and leading as long as policy is followed. For example:
However, let's say an administrator becomes risk-averse.
How could risk-aversion affect decision-making?
I wonder if these musings are at all valid. In the abstract form, they seem possible, but I wonder what people's experiences / thoughts may be. Looking forward to any comments you may have.
Until next week.
Ingenious. No that's too positive. Devious. And I say that with utmost respect. You cannot find this subject on a straight Google search. Maybe they pay to kill the subject? The subject is "Kool Killers on Wicked Wheels".
Have you seen cars with "The Reds" on them. The above shot is from a van delivering cigarettes to a store in a mall. Pretty uncool and no one really cares.
But the other vehicles are Porsches and high-end SUVs. Driven by models.
Keep an eye out for them. They drive to clubs with their windows down so everyone can see their coolness. At clubs, they hang out looking ever-so sexy smoking their brand in outdoor areas overlooking the Bosphorus. And they offer cigarettes to young people.
Philip Morris, the cigarette manufacturer has its head office up the street, so I often get to see these cool people pass by in their cool cars. The company has security most often reserved for consulates and embassies.
Perhaps it is fitting for what some call "merchants of death".
Cigarettes are not my point though. Media literacy is my point.
Media are not limited to newspapers, TV and films. Media include everything we see and interact with.
And cool cars with cool creatures smoking uncool cigarettes is a medium that gets young people to smoke.
Let's not let the smoke get in our eyes so we can see we are being duped.
Perhaps like you, I prefer to work in a place with a purpose, a plan, a mission. It excites me that we all know why we are here. A shared mission builds community and common purpose. It is the rudder on a steady ship. When a mission is crisp, clear and understood, there are few uncertainties.
Before looking at schools, let's take a look at these two missions from the corporate world: Apple in 1980 and Apple in 2016 (as quoted in Business Insider). Which of the two missions do you prefer?
This first one is from 1980: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
The second mission statement is from today: "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad."
Take a second to reflect. Which one might inspire you? Which company sounds exciting to work at? If it's the first, it may be because the original mission addresses what Simon Sinek calls the "why" or the raison d'etre of Apple (see his 17-minute TED Talk on the subject here). In 1980, Apple knew why they existed and were ready to create new "tools for the mind", yet unnamed, that would advance humankind. A heady mission indeed!
What about today? It looks like they are concentrating not on the "why" but on the "what". Today, Apple concentrates on the product. It seems to be a mission about making stuff so they can make money. Not so inspiring anymore.
So, which Apple would you want to work for? An Apple that creates new as yet unnamed tools to help mankind? Or an Apple that creates Macs? Your call.
If you are an educator or a student, take a minute and try to remember your own school's mission. If you know it and it is meaningful, excellent! Please share it in the comments below! If you do not know the mission, is it because it is too long, meaningless or full of generalities such as "excellence", "internationalism", and "life-long learning"? Do your eyes glaze over when you think of it? It does not have to be this way!
A school's mission can change over time and should reflect the needs of a school's current situation. Most important is that a mission statement should be about something that can be connected to everything the school does. Every proposal, every lesson, every act of the school must connect in some way with the mission.
That does not mean a mission should include everything. Quite the opposite.
Let's look at a few that capture my fancy for their simplicity. (All of these mission statements have been taken from MissionStatements.com)
Belmont Hill School 350 Prospect Street Belmont, MA 02478:
Mission Statement: To Ensure the Safety and Security for Each Person in our Community
I am not sure what prompted this mission, but everything done within the school can be attached to this mission. If it is not ensuring safety, perhaps it should not be done.
New Horizons School
The Mission of New Horizons School is to provide a school for homeless children. Our objective is to help the children escape the bonds of poverty and hopelessness by providing education, life skills, values and a caring environment that will empower them to successfully move into the mainstream of society.
Straightforward and again, if something is proposed that will not empower these homeless children, it should not be done.
Brehm Preparatory School 1245 East Grand Avenue Carbondale, IL 62901
Brehm’s mission is to empower students with complex learning disabilities to recognize and optimize their full potential.
If it doesn't help the student recognize self-potential, it should not be done.
Buckley Community School 305 South First St. Buckley, Michigan 49620
The mission of the Buckley Community School, where kids come first, is to partner with families to develop enthusiastic learners.
If someone proposes an activity where kids don't come first, where families aren't involved or where the kids' eyes will glaze over, trash it!
You get the idea. One sentence or two at most. Do-able. Those are missions.
Are you at a school with no mission, a long-winded mission, and/or a meaningless mission? Here are some pitfalls for schools without a meaningful mission:
Here's the good stuff. A mission is a statement that reflects the soul of the school. Among the benefits for schools with a meaningful mission:
Please share your own school's mission in the comments section below. Maybe we can all think about which ones are worthy of being reflections of a soul of a school.
Until next weekend!
Maybe you have have money. Maybe middle class? Educated? A no-brainer - but are you really among the 53%? OK, let's see how financially astute you are.
A few months ago, Alara approached me to help in my quest for a meaningful logo for my website. Working systematically, she first sat me down to find out the following:
My answers drove her quest:
Her first visualisation was a tree, symbolising education, with wi-fi signals coming from it. The tree then underwent many transformations, but something wasn't quite "it". The design felt too complicated. I mentioned that I had read that a logo should be simple enough for a child to draw.
Then after our semester break, she returned with what you see here. The elements of education and web-friendly are packaged in a simple, easy-to-draw manner.
What was her motivation? Just to do something that was creative and meaningful for someone else. It is.
Thank you Alara. Now I need to make my website worthy of such a logo.