As I shared last time, the late Austrian management philosopher Peter Drucker spent his six-decade working life in pursuit of one big question. How do we make society both more productive and more humane? This is what Drucker wanted to know.
The question fascinates me because it is so difficult, so important, so balanced.
Any of us can find ways to produce more in our classrooms, in our schools, in our districts. Work more hours! Read more books! Sleep less! Teach more strategies! Make more engaging lessons! Give more book talks! Be strict!
And any of us can find ways to make our classrooms warmer, more humane places. Spend more time on relationship-building! It's all about relationships! Eat lunch with the kids! Go to sporting events! Smile! Be warm!
But few of us — hardly any of us — are rigorous enough about asking how to do both at the same time. We fall to one side or the other. The producers obsess over tests, data, results, assessments, plans, slideshows, activities. The humanizers obsess over connection, relationship, warmth.
The thing is, a school's job is to do both.
Before we can even start, we need to wrestle with hard questions:
- What are we even trying to produce?
- What does it even mean to be human?
The school — and a society — that has no clear answers to these questions will always tend toward incoherence.
(I'm wrestling with these, too.)