There is a lot in the media at the moment about schools being asked to solve the ills of society and to take on many of the roles and responsibilities that in previous times have belonged to parents, extended families and communities. My view (as always, perhaps) is probably a little different. I think that we are in a process of finding our feet as we transition from the industrial era in which children were raised by families within strong communities into the new era or epoch we are entering. The previously “normal” way of doing things has been disrupted because the world has changed so much. It is not that parents are trying to avoid their responsibilities. Rather, I suspect it is that we don’t yet know how to be as a society in this very different and continually changing world. What we have to do now is to co-construct – collaboratively build – the society of these new times and together determine how roles and responsibilities are distributed. This “co-construction” may mean that schools will have to see their roles differently and parents and communities also. We cannot go backwards, but we can take lessons from the past forward with us.
However, collaborative building (co-construction) is not easy. Meeting with parents via focus groups and consultation over the past few terms has been a very positive experience. I really appreciate the respect which people have shown each other and the school, and the willingness to acknowledge that there are multiple perspectives is a credit to our community. It has been hugely valuable to me to hear the variety of views and perspectives that people bring. And I can assure you that it impacts our thinking and I hope that you will see it in our planning for the future. For me, it has also been quite freeing to have an opportunity to put our perspective –to explain why we do things. Thank you so much for the respect you have shown us.
However, I always come away from focus group meetings or consultation reminded of the difficulties inherent in trying to make sense of the different perspectives and of developing a way forward that values each voice and perspective. I am still learning how to do that effectively. However, I really hope that together we can continue to co-construct a community in Amesbury, Churton Park, that embraces diversity of ethnicity, diversity of ideas and within which all community members can thrive.
Nga mihi nui.
PS: Here is a link to my latest article which has attracted quite a bit of interest. It is a longer version of the digest editorial I wrote a few weeks ago.