The Pursuit of Excellence - Part 5

Spotlight on Education

The Pursuit of Excellence – Part 5

           Let’s continue to examine our theme -- the pursuit of excellence in education. A reminder of the sixvalues that form a foundation for excellence: integrity, commitment, passion, truth, courage, and teamwork. In previous weeks, we discussed integrity, commitment, and passion. Let’s dig deeper into the necessity of passion in the educational process for students.  

           I've had some days in this profession when I struggled to meet the tasks of the day with passion and enthusiasm. When such a day occurs, I remind myself of the number of people who are depending upon me, and the difference I can make in the lives of others. The education of students requires a laser focus on the possibilities of helping young people who desperately need our assistance; some of whom, think they don’t need assistance from anyone. A quote to consider: "Every man without passions has within him no principle of action, nor motive to act." -- Claude A. Helvetius. With the inherent challenges of this work and the constant public scrutiny, discouragement and frustration may knock at the door. All the more reason to re-kindle the passion! George Carlin once said, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  I recently asked educators: Have you had a moment that took your breath away in your work with students? Recall and reflection upon such events will help re-energize passion. Every educator has such a well from which they can draw enthusiasm and passion. Nelson Mandela spoke to this topic: "There is no passion to be found in playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than what you are capable of living.”The pursuit of excellence by definition means striving for high goals and ideals.

            Just a reminder of the guiding question that has been posed to the faculty, staff, and administrators in our school district: What would it take for us to achieve excellence in all aspects of our work? Let’s talk about truth. Reality is often defined as the truth; the real nature of something - the facts. It is difficult to remove personal bias from our perception of reality; from individual interpretation of "the facts." Nonetheless, the pursuit of truth is a worthwhile endeavor. Choosing to search for truth and confronting harsh realities are critical to achieving positive results in the long-term.  Jim Collins (2001) in his book, Good to Great, explains it this way, "Confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith." The search for truth is a friend to all who seek greatness from our students.

            An anonymous quote to consider: "Wisdom is choosing the purity of truth over popularity." Speaking the truth of the challenges facing us in the educational process will not be easy. It may bring criticism, ridicule, and unpopularity. Nonetheless, a sharp focus on truth is the first step in producing solutions to difficult challenges. In fact, obstacles and challenges are often veiled opportunities for success.

            The pursuit of excellence in education may appear as a stale, archaic motto. When excellence is shrouded in the values of integrity, commitment, passion, and truth, it becomes a meaningful framework for improved educational opportunity for students.