Solution #4

“A good solution solves more than one problem, and it does not make new problems.”

Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land

It seems characteristic of democracies and market driven cultures to look for one dimensional solutions to three dimensional problems. It may even be that we are so habituated to this pattern of behavior that we can’t see it. Or maybe it’s just normal. In any case, I see it in myself and all around me. A person wants to prosper so he hoards money, failing to realize that prosperity requires relationships, investments, and energy. A person wants to lose weight so she cuts calories, failing to realize that fitness requires energy and some semblance of enthusiasm.

Berry goes on: “I am talking about health as opposed to almost any cure, coherence of pattern as opposed to almost any solution produced piecemeal or in isolation.”

This is a great caution for us in our schools. Berry is calling us to wisdom, not mere administration. His council requires that we know the nature of our institutions, how they interact with their communities, how they effect and are effected by the members, and how they are organically related to things within and around them. No book or process can explain these things adequately.

The conventional educator wants a technique that will work anywhere. That way he can always get a job in some school somewhere. Berry is calling us beyond techniques to wisdom. Headmasters need to learn the 11 dynamics of school growth, how to manage paper, how to order their time, how to handle interruptions and so on. But none of it will serve the purpose if the head doesn’t also live and breathe the vision of the school.

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