Action without vision is a nightmare– this is the category of unconscious incompetence. It is the worst place to be: a no man’s land of wasted time and directionless progress, with no objective and a deception of success.
We need to set economic constraints aside because vision is always expensive to implement. In actuality, vision itself is completely free. Instead, we need to ask ourselves if continuing to educate as we do, are we not essentially wasting money that would be better spent on investing in generating a vision for the future? To prepare students for a world where their skills will be significant, competencies will be integral to national development and relevance, and Barbados will be in a position to prosper?
What we are currently offering our children is a lie. We tell them that after five years of studying a subject, they will take a qualifying exam and then sit their CXCs. When 240 children sit the qualifying exam, and three pass, and are entered for the CXC, the lie of statistics records 100 per cent passes in that subject. Not three out of 240 children who have been taught the subject for five years, but three out of three who have passed it.
The TRUTH is that only 1.25 per cent have passed the subject. It is time taxpayers who fund ‘free’ education know the reality of what their investment yields.
Lies are the security blankets of the unconsciously incompetent and in order for vision to be prioritised, we have to stop lying to those who foot the bill. ‘Vision without action is a daydream’ – this is the category of conscious incompetence. As the saying goes, ‘if you (action) are not with me (vision), you are against me’. It is unforgivable to be conscious of what must be changed, and to not develop an action plan because it is too challenging to change those who are incompetent.
How this translates in our schools is that the ‘tail’ of precedent being set, is accepted as common practice, thereby, ‘wagging the dog’ of legislation, which clearly sets out the expectations of best practice.
A school administrator told me in my early days as a Principal that her biggest problem was that ‘teachers disappear from the last day of school in July until the week before school starts in September’. She went on to explain that her staff were ‘unreachable’ by phone, message or email, during the Summer holidays.
In being unable to reach them, she was thwarted, without having the means to action administrative vision, thereby improving the product of service which could be provided to students and to fix what was ‘broken’, inadequate or obsolete and action the vision of sustainable improvement.
This was a brave admission indeed, and one which is seldom shared. Leaders deeply feel the shame of inadequacy when they cannot inspire growth and initiative in those they lead.
It stood as a warning to me, especially as I was young (er) and inexperienced. I realized that I needed to start as I meant to continue. As a result of her counsel, I have ignored the criticism of ‘staff turnover’. If professional action is not forthcoming to sustain administrative vision, there can be no positive change, and we part ways based on ideological differences.
The immoveable object of status quo is the security blanket of the consciously incompetent. I am not suggesting that teachers do not deserve a break, or that all can be lumped into the same category. Far from it. There is excellence everywhere in the teaching profession. However, my observations are that excellence in performance and the ability to provide high value, by some teachers, is seen as a threat to those others who choose the status quo of precedent, expectation and entitlement as an excuse to disconnect from the action that contributes to the vision.
Action with vision is making a positive difference – this is the category of conscious competence, which when fully embraced and practiced, quickly becomes the foundation for unconscious competence. Surely, this is what our children deserve? Not to mention the taxpayers who fund education and our country to whom we all owe so much.
I am blessed beyond measure that my team is packed with visionaries who share their ideas with confidence; who always search for solutions; who act when the ‘going gets tough’. And make no mistake, the ‘going’ is always tough in teaching. I would argue that teaching is 1000 per cent more difficult than parenting any day.
I remember an essay I had to write at A Level, in 1978: Was Hamlet a Man of Action or a Man of Ideas? The times we find ourselves in demand both. It has been said that in the 21st Century, human development will equate to a thousand years of progress. We have no time to waste. Not as teachers, not as Barbadians.
Unconscious competence is Vision IN Action
As Joshua Graham wrote, “I survived because the fire within me burned brighter than the fire around me.” It’s time we set education in Barbados on fire.
Julia Hanschell can be contacted at [email protected]
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