Thursday, 29 July 2010

Putting your head above the parapet

I have had a couple of conversations in the last week about the benefits and dangers of putting your head above the parapet, so thought I might share my thoughts on the subject.
Sitting back and just letting things happen whilst we keep our thoughts, supportive or critical, does not come naturally to some of us - and just as well too because if all governors did this we would end up with passive nodding dog governing bodies. So some of us routinely speak out, sometimes being deliberately provocative in order to generate debate - we 'put out heads above the parapet'.
One consequence of this is that we become targets for others who disagree with what we are saying or the way we are saying it. My experiene is that I even get arrows fired at me when I am silent, as people make all sorts of wierd assumptions about what the silence means.
The constant barrage can be tiring and ways of dealing with that are useful:
1. Remember that it is not you that is being attacked - at worst it is your opinion and that is 'just' a mental construct, not any part of your core identity
2. Regard all comments as valuable feedback - they generally say as much about the other person as about you, so what can you learn from the interaction?
3. Remember that even the strongest warriors need a rest from time to time - take time out to listen or observe
Then get back in there and make a difference, nothing was ever changed by those who sit on their hands wishing for a quiet time!

1 comment:

Sharon Hogan said...

Hi Geoff
Sharon - Steve McCabes partner here.

What with me being in education and all that, he thought i might be interested in your blog about school governors and indeed i was!

Your thoughts are really interesting, I especially like your strategies for dealing with opposition / conflict - has taken me a life time to learn these.

I just wanted to insert some caution into your words of wisdom if that's ok!

In the new era of free schools...i am increasingly anxious about those who don't just wish to come to a shared understanding / strategy of how best to 'school' our children ( and having had the best governors in the world as a headteacher including parents / local tory councillor / social workers i know how amazing this can be) but think they know better....

I always welcomed challenge and indeed those parents who wanted to know why their children werent reading and writing by 4 made my mouth water as i knew here was a chance to have a real impact on childrens lives!! Its a privilege to have had the opportunties ive had to understand how children learn and develop and each day i learn more, the chance to share this with parents who impressively want the best for their children but sometimes who are sadly misguided in how this can be achieved is a responsibility i have taken very seriously. I have to say the misguided are also present within Education and not just parents!

Anyway enough for now - good luck with the blog!!!

Steve says hi by the way!