Timothy R. Miller
Re-envision, Reimagine, Reopen
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Meaning is uncovered when an individual engages the world with a reflective approach. By committing to introspection, anyone can unlock the possibilities of potential and facilitate growth through a depth of understanding. With an attention to detail, individuals will garner perspective that can foster progress and enhance the capacity to be transformational. Our world, and in particular, our system of education, sits at a crossroads that requires individuals to challenge the embedded practices of inconsistency and strive towards a path of self-awareness. True leadership requires a recognition of assets and the capacity to trust those with the professional commitment to push the line forward to uncover new ground for others to tread. The paramount goal of our institution is to promote a passion for the art of learning. As such, reopening plans should reimagine the structure of implementation and not simply redeploy antiquated systems of cognitive dissonance. Developing a sustainable vision which can offer opportunity and inspire enthusiasm amongst our learners should be at the heart of each determination made. We live in a time of great advancement that, in offering simplicity, requires the application of deep analytic understanding to the problems that face an ever changing global community.
Unfortunately, in our quick fix and bandaid mentality, the depths are rarely ventured into. Many educators dismiss the need to tread within the depths of the institution or their craft for fear of the work it will entail and the truths that will arise. Reflection is being willing to dismantle that for which you are comfortable in order to truly assess its worth and value within the sphere you are engaging. During the uncertainty of our current reality, educational leaders must eschew the desire for comfort and remove any desire to force archaic models into designs for addressing the complexities that complacency has brought to the forefront. No longer should systems of public education be focused upon covering a curriculum by employing methodologies designed to meet the needs of a bygone agrarian era or early twentieth century industrialization. The last four months have only highlighted the structural ailments of inequity and inefficiencies that plague the system of education. Reimagining requires a commitment to meet the needs of a community in a manner that thoughtfully reflects on the beauty and simplicity a Socratic approach founded on inquiry can offer the progressive growth of learners.
In short, decisions should be predicated on engaging in those communicative practices that can contribute to progressively addressing imbalance. The debate regarding the essence of learning has far-reaching ramifications for the pioneering innovativeness that frame the American spirit. How we define the culture of learning is at the forefront of this debate: Is it a system of free enterprising thought or a collection of bureaucratic impediments that do more to stifle than innovate? In order to address such an inquiry, true professionals must reflect upon their chosen craft, and the journey of experiences that frame their perspective. By doing so, individuals will recognize that in order to meet the needs of transformational learning, the conditions for transformation must be cultivated.
Throughout the journey of my career, interpretations and the perspectives generated have guided me to strive toward removing the impediment of cognitive dissonance that permeates the structures of education. It is my distinct belief that stakeholders need to cultivate ideas that attempt to shift the culture within their sphere of influence. Embedded in such a notion resides the rationale for which I compose this brief synopsis. This reflection is not intended to summarize concepts that have already been analyzed. Rather, it serves to encapsulate one individual thinkers long-seeded thoughts that frame a perspective and ideology for transformational leadership. As a professional who embarked upon a career within the educational system, I recognized the barriers and impediments that I would encounter in attempting to shift the culture of education. As a result, I have engaged in my craft with a refusal to acquiesce to the complacency of cognitive dissonance. For twenty-two years, this practice has served to afford me the opportunity to remain true to the principles necessary to ensure that the students in my charge are provided every opportunity to grow as life-long learners.
The institution of education should be a setting where individuality is encouraged and diverse opinions are received with underlying respect. When I contemplate the methodology and approaches that can move the institution in a more progressive direction, I continually find myself at odds with the one size fits all model that currently frames policy and implementation. Over the course of a career, I have watched as quality authentic practices, once heralded, were summarily dismissed by arbitrary and reactionary policies meant to satisfy short term, visionless applications. These enactments, which neither strive for continuity or attempt sustainability, have engrained a suspended disbelief that requires educators to accept a pendulum model that never seeks gain, but merely returns to positions of old. The notion of moving and growing the system is quashed by maintaining mediocrity for the sake of familiarity. Breaking through systematic impediments requires a commitment to understand the learner through the connections that exist between theory and practice. If reflection is the key to transformation, then the arbitrary nature of application and implementation must be purged from operational frameworks.
Cultivating relationships that bring about honest discourse can begin to usher in structures that promote the tenets of life-long learning. Addressing all that ails the system demands a willingness to engage divergent perspectives in order to transform and break from entrenched ideologies. When seeking to mark an appropriate course for the institution, debate must engage the notion of removing the archaic mechanisms that hinder the attainment of quality. To that end, it should be recognized that professionalism is not afforded to station but rather, garnered through the perseverance and determination found in endeavoring to represent the profession in a positive and meaningful way. By ascribing the moniker of “professional” stakeholders commit and profess to uphold the integrity of the field. All actions must avoid that which degrades from the ultimate purpose of the craft and give rise to those efforts that will engender the greatest level of success. Individuality should replace the platform of conformity as the premium that can elevate the quality of progressive approaches. Through the unique experiences of each individual, a multitude of perspectives can enlighten the debate and uncover meaningful commonality that can unlock possibilities. Transformation occurs when life is viewed through the lens of a learner. Shifting paradigms demands authentic leaders who embody the reflective approaches that seek to build understanding as a means to effectuate meaningful and sustainable change.