Understanding Southridge by Dr. Paul Dumol 2

Pages 1 to 40            Pages 41 to 80            Pages 81 to 133

CHAPTER 7

 

PARENTS

 

Admission

 

1.  The parents of our students are our best marketing agents.

 

2.  Recently, the so-called admission interview that applicant parents are required to pass has been questioned in the School Board.  Its name and implicitly its nature were questioned.  In truth, the interview is only partly such.  The conference is above all an information session, in which the parents are informed of the PAREF educational philosophy, the character formation program, and what is expected of PAREF parents.  The purpose of the information session is to get the agreement of the parents to everything they are told.

 

            This I now find unfair, mainly because what we expect the applicant parents to agree to are not easy to understand and we ask for an answer at the end of the session.  I would, I think, be better to give them a paper explaining what we want them to agree to.  The conference could then be set a day or two later.  It would also be good for the parents to keep the paper to review it from time to time.

 

3.  It is important to hold in the admission conference as soon as possible.  If it is held too close to enrolment, parents may feel forced to agree to PAREF education because it is too late to look for another school.

 

4.  I think it important in the admission conference to be very clear about what the parents must agree to.  We shouldn’t be afraid of scaring applicant parents away.

 

 

Formation

 

5.  Parents should attend a talk and open forum on the goals of education and what we expect of them.  The best and logical occasion for this would be the Seminar for New Parents.  The subsequent seminars on Goals of Formation would be like review sessions.

 

6.  Following the no-messianic interpretation of the PAREF philosophy of education, parents should be initially extended a general invitation to the seminars on child-upbringing.  If and when the tutor sees that they actually need to attend any of the seminars, then they should be invited personally.

 

7.  Much parent information and formation would, in my opinion, be more effectively done by Parent Coordinators.  I think the first task of the school is to develop a core of well-informed and well-formed parents who will then spread this information and formation to other parents, until a general atmosphere is created, part of the tradition of the school.  This must be supplemented by readings and seminars.  The former are very important.  Parents need something to refer to, something in black and white to reflect on at their leisure, a written basis for discussions between father and mother.

 

8.  I think it good to give parents as early as possible a detailed knowledge of the school’s expectations of them with regard to piety, doctrine, and morals; so, too, with regard to family life, child upbringing, and the development of study habits.  Delaying only convinces a new couple that the school is not really serious about its demands, and it becomes much harder to ask a couple to change the more time we let pass.  Our seminars on goals of formation are the occasions for this.  Our seminars on child-upbringing and first communicants give them an even more detailed knowledge.  But the parents must get to know of these expectations, at least indirectly, from the tutor as well.  The tutor must be fearless about calling a spade a spade.

 

9.  We mustn’t be quick to blame parents for everything wrong in their child.  The environment outside the home is a potent force.  And it wouldn’t do to say in a cavalier tone that parents must know how to guard their children against such an environment.  We don’t expect the children to grow up in greenhouses; we don’t want them to feel they are being watched or spied upon.  If the tutor sees that the parents are not to blame, then he must help the parents identify the cause of whatever is going wrong in the child.

 

 

Separation

 

10.  We have had to do this only in a few instances.  Each time it was the Director who did it.  Today it would be the Principal.

 

11.  Some parents have had to be asked to leave PAREF because of actions contrary to morals taught in Southridge.  In these cases, the facts must be rigorously determined.

 

12.  In principle, nothing learned in the tutorial chat may be used against parents.

 

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            Beautiful ideas!  But what does it mean to be a well-informed and well-formed parent?  This has to be determined first.

 

13.  Some parents have had to be asked to leave because of unacceptable behavior in school or towards school personnel.

 

14.  In all these instance, the children are allowed to finish the school year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

 

 

STUDENTS

 

Admission

 

1.  There are only two admission criteria to Prep and Grade 1:

 

(a)    that the child be of the right age (6 for Prep, 7 for Grade 1) and

 

(b)  that the child be mature enough to learn with other children in a classroom.

 

2.  Children younger than the required age by school opening may be admitted if they will reach the required age by the start of the second semester.  Their admission, however, is always waived in favor of children with the required age.

 

3.  Admission among children of the right age is on a first-come-first-served basis.

 

4.  A child who does not yet seem ready for school life may be allowed to attend classes for a week or two to confirm the school’s initial impression.  If there are more applicants than there are slots, however, such a child should be placed on the waiting list.

 

5.  Admission to all other grade levels is premised on passing entrance examinations.  I think we have slowly seen that it is best to demanding in these examinations, especially those for high school.

 

6.  Students admission into Southridge used to be ultimately determined by the Management Staff.  A few years ago it was delegated to a Committee on Admissions.  The reason for this was to relieve Management Staff members and especially the head of the school of pressure from persons following up applications.  In the past, the admission of students who had not passed entrance examinations led to grumbling on the part of teachers and convert accusations of favoritism.  All this has changed.  By agreement, the Management Staff will never reverse a decision of the Committee, although it may request the Committee to review a decision.  Only the School Board may reverse a decision of the Committee.

 

7.  I do not know current rules on accepting students provisionally.  I know they have been recently tightened, as these rules in the past allowed students to enter who subsequently performed miserably.  The original thinking behind provisional admission was the following: the some students who almost passed entrance examinations failed to do so because of reasons other then intellectual slowness.  In that case, we tried to determine the reasons for the poor performance through an interview.  If the interviewer felt the boy might be intellectually capable, then he was admitted provisionally.  Recently two students who failed entrance examinations were admitted because of a mix-up in communications.  One of these students passed the year with difficulty, but passed nonetheless; the other did well.  This experience shows that the thinking behind provisional admission is sound.

 

8.  The observation has been made that we should not accept new students into high school because many of these new students never had the benefit of a good character formation program in their former school and could therefore be a negative influence on their classmates.  I personally feel this observation is too pessimistic.  What we used to do avoid admitting “rotten eggs” was to require high school applicants to pass an admission interview as well.  In that interview, we tried to see what sort of person the applicant was.  In fact, we tried to discourage him from studying in Southridge by informing him of the work which would be expected of him in the school.  Refusing to admit a student because we feel he could be a bad influence, save in the case when the boy has a disciplinary record in his previous school, is, of course, always a delicate business, not the less because it is difficult to give this reason to his parents.  How the rejection will communicated to the parents must be thought out well.  At present, we no longer conduct an admission interview with applicants to high school.  Maybe we should, even if the applicant has passed the entrance examinations.  Often, the new high school student must change, and it is best if he enters the school with the right dispositions.

 

9.  Giving parents the go-signal to enroll their adolescent son is just the first step in admission into high school.  The new student should become part of the academic community, as soon as possible: we should make him feel at home, win him to the “side” of the school, inform him of important rules and regulations.  Tutors should encourage their tutees who are his classmates to befriend him.  It is difficult for adolescents to “start life anew” in a new school; it think it may be as difficult for new intermediate school students.

 

 

Discipline

 

10.  Is there a difference between norms of conduct and school rules and regulations?  By norms of conduct is meant “a prescribed guide for conduct or action”; by rules and regulations is meant “rules or orders having the force of law issued by an executive authority of a government.”  Norms of conduct are guides.  Rules and regulations are laws.  Students who violate a norm of conduct are merely reprimanded, not punished; they may be punished if they violate the same norms repeatedly.  In that case, the punishment is really for disobedience.  Students who violate regulations are not only reprimanded, but also punished.  I think the distinction is important, because norms of conduct have as their purpose the development of a certain way of acting, whereas rules and regulations have as their purpose the avoidance of certain acts.

 

            A way of acting is really the external manifestation of a way of thinking.  When we prescribe a norm, we are really trying to win over the students to a certain way of thinking.  The norms for behavior in the oratory, for example, try to instill in students the attitude of reverence towards God and thing related to His cult.  “Win over the students,” because we would not accomplish anything by punishing students for not following a norm; on the contrary, we may drive them to hate the way of thinking we would like them to have.  When we punish students for not following a norm of conduct, we are converting a guide into a law.

 

            Norms of conduct perceived to be a set of regulations are intolerable; they would result in tense students, self-conscious about their behavior at every minute, fearful of making a mistake and being punished.  Imagine someone plucked from the boondocks, given a twenty-minute crash course on table manners, and seated at a formal dinner: if the fellow were to perceive the norms on spoons and forks, eating and drinking, etc., as so many regulations, he would probably opt. not to eat.  When students accuse us of running a military school, may it not be because we have transformed norms into rules?  Instead of winning students over to our thinking, we alienate them.  The techniques of “winning over” are worlds apart from those of “punishing.”

 

11.  Norms of conduct are directly related to the character formation program of the school.  They are the concern of all and not just of the class adviser or tutor.  The latter is interested in them insofar as they apply to his tutee.  Everyone must know what way of thinking a particular norm of behavior is intended to develop.  Is this in fact the case?  I fear not.  We have never given talks on these topics.  We have taken for granted that teachers and tutors know why a particular behavior in a particular place or situation is recommended by the school.

 

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            We reprimanded a student for not picking up litter, but we don’t punish him.  On the other hand, we may not only reprimand, but also punish a student we catch eating outside the cafeteria.  Similarly, there would be nothing wrong with punishing a student for littering, but we should not punish a student for crossing his legs in the oratory.

 

12.  People are won over to a way of thinking only gradually.  If the way of thinking is never explained to them, we should not be surprised if they do not acquire it.  We shouldn’t expect students to figure out for themselves the way of thinking that inspired a particular norm of behavior.

 

13.  School rules and regulations have different purposes.  Some apply the moral law, e.g. , rules regarding driving a car to school.  Still others establish order, e.g. , rules for queuing in the cafeteria.  Yet others wish to prevent students from developing undesirable attitudes, e.g. ,  the rule about not bringing electronic gadgets to school.  In Southridge, we have always tried to make the punishment of violations of school rules and regulations commensurate to the moral gravity of the act, e.g. , the punishment for smoking has never been as harsh as that for bringing pornographic materials to school.  School objectives are a further guide for determining the gravity of an offense.  Punishment for shouting in the corridors while classes are going on cannot be the same as that for not lining up in the cafeteria:  the former is graver because it hinders teaching and learning the very purpose of schools.  The manner of reprimanding must reflect the different natures of the violations;  littering is wrong in a different way from bringing a camera to Southridge.  In the latter case, it would be wise to explain to the student why what he did is not allowed in the school;  otherwise, we give students the impression that the school is “full of rules for the sake of having rules.”

 

14.  Parents insist on sanctions that can change the character of the offender.  All sanctions can:  no one knows if they will.  I remind students that a specific order has been established in the school and that this order should be followed:  otherwise, the student who disagrees should leave the school.

 

15.  There was a period in Southridge history when we tried to make institutional punishments do the job of disciplining the students.  This was the period of the so-called SOR’s.  Discipline did not improve.  I think we resorted to the SOR’s out of impatience and exasperation.  We were faced with students who would continually misbehave, while we felt that, with so much to do,  one should not spend so much time disciplining children stealing sandwiches.  And yet, if one does not discipline students,  teaching and learning and character formation are hampered.  There is, thus,  no escaping the duty to discipline.

 

16.  Institutional sanctions (suspension, jug exercises, detention)  can never compensate for a teacher’s inability to discipline.  I have seen weak teachers whose classes were a mess

 

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            We have no choice but to let go a teacher who cannot discipline.

 

try to impose order and discipline by detaining students on Saturday or sending them to the Principal.  These recourses never worked.  On the contrary, discipline tended to worsen, and the institutional sanctions which failed so manifestly became caricatures of their purpose and an administrative burden.

 

            Discipline is most effective when it is personal and when it looks impersonal because of procedures as happens in the case of a grave offense, then it should be personalized.  When a teacher has trouble disciplining a class, we don’t helphim by to discipline.  The task of disciplining, I am convinced, can only be handled effectively in a personal way.  By personal I do not mean that offenses are presented to offenders as “personal offenses,” as “offenses against the very person of the school official.”  What I mean is that the violation must be handled personally:  the offender must be talked to;  he must see why that he did was wrong:  and he must see why he committed the offense in order to be able to struggle to avoid repeating it in the future.  This does not obviate the need for punishment, but it will often engender “imaginative punishments,” novel punishments with just enough bite and if possible,  a touch of humor to impress upon the offender the gravity of his offense.

 

            The more difficult part of disciplining is patience.  It is important that the student continually reflect on why he does what he knows is wrong.  The tutor should be alerted and help.  None of this may work.  But we have done our duty as educators if students act with full awareness and full deliberateness.

 

17.  Discipline needs the collaboration of the home.  If the boy in school is merely reproducing the bad behavior he is allowed at home, he will end up resentful of the school.  Parents must be asked to talk to their erring children; the latter will learn at the least the valuable lesson that one cannot behave the same way all the time everywhere with different people.

 

18.  Order and discipline, like material and financial needs, trend to devour the attention of school officials to the detriment of education.  We should not allow this to happen.  Attention to education.  We should not allow this to happen.  Attention to education will often bring us to creative solutions to problems.  When we concentrate on problems of order and discipline for their own sake and not that of education, we will often come up with wrong solutions.

 

 

Standards

 

19.  In Southridge, passing standards, or minimum learning competencies in education jargon, correspond to what we feel a child with an average intelligence at a certain age can learn.  Initially, Southridge standards were based on principles of rational psychology, developmental psychology.  FOMENTO papers, and our own experience of grade school and high school.  These standards have been refined through the years and continue to be refined.

                        

20.  When many students fail in a teacher’s class; we check the subject matter the teaching method, the evaluations, and the students themselves.  If the fault lies on the part of the school (i.e. , standards or the teacher), then examinations or quizzes are not counted (or they may be only for those who got high grades and in that case as a bonus).  If the teaching has been faulty,  then additional classes may be given and new tests administered.  If test construction is at fault, then portions of examinations may be cancelled or new tests given.  The principle we follow is that students must never suffer for what they are not at fault.

 

21.  Can students be at fault when many fail in a teacher’s class?  The usual answer is no, but I do know by personal experience that the contrary can be true.  I experienced this when I was in 1st Year High School.  I had a classmate who would persuade us not to study for a test or quiz (and bully those who refused to cooperate) in order to get back at a teacher or just to annoy him;  many of my classmates followed him.  Again in 1st Year I saw the Literature teacher give up trying to have the class read what they had to.  He tried his best, alternately coaxing and threatening us, and ended up with a nervous breakdown.  When I was in 3rd Year.  I saw how many classmates would simply not study for exams in Physics.  The teacher had a nervous breakdown afterwards.  It is unfair to blame the teacher in these three cases, and even if the teacher may have had some fault, the students cannot be excused for what they did.  I was in 1st Year twenty-six years ago, when it is supposed adolescents were not as lazy on rebellious as they are now.  Of course, the greater majority of Southridge parents up to this year were in high school ahead of me.  Perhaps they were still well-behaved and honorable and thus are unable to believe that students can be at fault when many fail under the same teacher.

 

22.  It is important to understand correctly what is meant by a school’s standards.  Many think it has to do with the grade lower than which a student is considered failing.  What is considered the minimum passing grade expressed numerically in the report card at the end of the year is often merely symbolic.  It does not necessarily mean what it says literally making argument about it futile.  What has always meant what it says in our report cards is the letter grade: with a C the teacher publicly proclaims that his student has fulfilled school standards.  That 75%, even if it actually stands for a lower numerical grade.  (It need not stand for any numerical grade.)  It is entered at least as a 75% because 75% is the lowest passing mark allowed by the DECS.  If the DECS were to change it to 65% or 80%, then 65% or 80% it would be.

 

23.  This underscores the meaning of passing standards in Southridge: these refer to the level of knowledge we expect from our students in order to promote them to the next higher level of education.  When we talk of lowering or raising standards, therefore, it is beside the point to talk of lowering the passing mark to 65% or raising it to 80%.  The exception, “by decree,” is the passing mark in skills subjects.  It is presently a school policy that a student must “demonstrate having acquired a skill” by succeeding in 70%-75% of his attempts at the skill.  The reason for this school policy follows.  50% success than failures given x numbers of trials.  60% could mean skill acquisition, but by experience we have found 60% a most uncertain criterion of skill acquisition.  Thus, 60% is qualitatively described as Tentative.  70% we feel is the minimum success rate that gives us some assurance that a skill has indeed been acquired.  If a student persists at a 60% level throughout the year, the teacher has the option of considering it a passing mark.

 

24.  Present standards are based on what we think the average boy of a given age can do intellectually.  “Average boy” in this case does not mean that we take the average grade in a given class and make that the passing mark.  Our understanding of standards assumes the human mind works in the same way in all human beings and that it follows the same pattern of development in all human beings and that this pattern of development is more or less the same in individuals.  By “more or less” is meant that some children develop intellectually faster or slower than others, but that most develop at the same pace.  This view of the development of the intellect is confirmed by developmental psychology.  Aside from these assumptions the school follows a yet more fundamental set of assumptions:  that intelligence is a faculty of the soul that the soul as the form of human beings is the same for all that this sameness obtains also through time, that is, that people in the past or in the future will never be more or less terms is that once the school standards have been based on the pattern of intellectual development we don’t change them from year to year on the grounds that the sequence of intellectual development has changed or that I has speeded up or slowed down.  It is possible of course that developmental psychologists erred

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            As far as I know, no similar policy exists for tests of information and tests of understanding.  Quantitative criteria make no sense in evaluating understanding.  With regard to information, what constitutes an acceptable level of knowledge varies according to the information learned and the reason for learning it.  A teacher could be legitimately satisfied with 50% knowledge as with 100% (as in Catechism quizzes).

 

            English and Pilipino teachers normally set 70% as the passing mark in their writing classes; Mathematics teachers set 75%.

 

in details of the patter of intellectual development, but in that case we find out what the errors are and adjust our standards correspondingly.

 

            The fact that many students find Southridge standards difficult to reach is no sign that the pattern of intellectual development on which school standards are based is mistaken, the LONGER tese standards have been in use.  What it could merely indicate is that there exist more obstacles to intellectual development than in previous times.  This is, in fact, the observation of many educators, psychologists, and sociologists today.  Although we should not cease to constantly refine our standards the difficulty experienced by many students must spur us, not to lower standards, but rather to identify those obstacles to learning and combat or uproot them.  When we base Southridge standards on developmental psychology, we are tacitly following the view that education develops the child’s intellectual potentials.

 

25.  There are people who have said Southridge standards are high compared with other schools; in fact, they say standards are “too high,” that the schools seems to want to prove its worth by having higher standards than other schools.  The second claim is false; we are merely interested in demanding from the students what they can give.  If other schools want to demand from them less than what they can actually give, that is their own business, and we respect the freedom of those schools to set their own standards.  Parents unsatisfied with our standards can always go to those other schools.

 

26.  Others say that our standards are too high vis-à-vis the level of knowledge demanded by Philippine universities.  Our own experience after eight batches of graduates is that our passing standards vis-à-vis Philippine universities are just right neither low nor high.  Of course, the Philippine universities I refer to are those with good reputations.

 

27.  Others say that, because of our standards, many leave the

 

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            If this is true, then there is a serious need for schools to fight the present times, given the third goal of education which is ultimately the development of the intellect.  Lowering one’s standards means copping out, condoning the weaknesses of the present generation.

 

            There are, in fact, two high school subjects to pass which students must reach a level of knowledge which may demand more effort than usual from average students.  I refer to Mathematics and Science.  The passing standards in these subjects are based on what is expected of freshman students from the better universities.  I am not ready to say, though, that passing standards in these subjects are unattainable.

 

school and that, because of our reputation, some refuse to put their children in our school.  Thus, the school suffers financially.  I would answer the following.  To educate our students below the level of education they are capable of is, in my opinion; a betrayal of the goals of education.  In terms of the goals of education, it means demanding that the students learn less wisdom than they could, demanding that they know less about their country and their people than they could; it means not demanding that they speak, read, write, or listen to the best of their abilities, nor calculate, estimate, or measure as best they can, nor judge critically or think; if we do not ask them to work as much as they can.  I do not see how we can teach them virtue either, as true virtue demands heroism and we show satisfaction with mediocrity.

 

28.  Let me quarrel with what I have just said: “Why should lowering standards mean demanding less?  A teacher should always demand the best from his students, no matter what the passing standards are, and for some students their best may be a 65%, for others it may be a 75%, for still others a 90%.”  True.  The objection states a principle we have always followed in Southridge and which is reflected in the high school report card in a column labeled “vis-à-vis capacities.”  Through the years however, we have noticed that , in spite of all the teachers efforts, many students give only what the passing mark demands.  If we were to lower the passing mark to a level of knowledge below the average student’s capacities, I am afraid many of our students would end up with very little knowledge indeed.  That is why I make the objections I give in the previous paragraph: the passing mark is whether we like it or not, perceived by the students as that level of knowledge which the school finds satisfactory.

 

29.  Others repeat the observations given above (beginning of no. 27) and recommend the lowering of standards so that more students can benefit from the good Southridge does.  They have in mind the tutorial and spiritual formation programs.  If the lowering of standards as I argue above means betraying the goals of education, I do not know if apostolic zeal would justify doing that.  It is true that every baptized person has the duty of doing apostolate, but I do not know if, in order to fulfill that duty, he is justified in betraying the demands of his profession.  The persons who may be justified in doing this might be religious (I think of nuns devoting themselves to educating the poor who tend to be unable to develop intellectually in a normal way because of their environment), but not, in my opinion, laymen who do not live a consecrated life.  Then again, my reservations regarding the development of virtue should I think be considered: may we not end up graduating informed but lazy Christians? (Of what use is information without virtue?)

 

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            I discuss the issue of money versus education further below.

 

30.  The suggestion has been made to introduce “streaming” or “tracking” in Southridge, that is, to divide students into slow, average, and fast learners and give each of these groups its own curriculum.  The most eloquent argument I have read against this is from Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal.  I refer the reader to this book.  In addition to what Adler says, I would ask the following questions.  What is there to prevent an average or even fast learner from pretending he is a slow learner?  What happens to children who start as slow learners and have the potential to become fast learners (the classis example is Einstein)?  May it not be possible that these slow learners “bloom late” precisely because of the pressure on them to catch up with average learners?  Would we not have to distinguish our graduates according to the streams they finish for the sake of colleges and even future employers who may suffer a rude surprise when they find out that the fast stream does not constitute all of Southridge or for the sake of our graduates themselves who may suffer from other people’s impressions about Southridge based on slow-stream graduates?

 

31.  This point I have just mentioned is the reason why we should not change “graduation standards” from to year.  The temptation to do this arises when a student whom we like or whose parents we like does not make the graduation criteria.

 

32.  School officials should be extremely careful not to apply any pressure whatsoever on 4th Year High School teachers to pass students. They should protect the teachers from any pressure of this sort.

 

33.  At the same time, the Ad in particular should make sure that every graduate deserves to graduate and that every student who will not graduate is not the victim of unfairness.

 

34.  We have always told students and parents that graduation from Southridge High School is the public testimony of Southridge that the graduate has learned everything he should.

 

Thus, no one who has not passed all high school subjects by graduation day is allowed to receive his diploma on that day even if we feel morally certain the student will pass his pending subjects during the long vacation.  This is a lesson that we learned after an embarrassing experience.

 

35.  Ordinarily, a school’s standards for passing do not attract attention.  They do not in our night school where those who do not fulfill them are few.  I believe this to be a sign that our standards are reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retention

 

36.  There are some students who make teaching and learning extremely difficult.  I think that in all justice to their classmates and their classmates’ parents they should be asked to leave the school.  Too often we see the child’s side and not that of their classmate.  Parents, of course, will always see their child’s side as well, but they have to be taught to see the side of other parents.  If parents cannot appreciate the side of other parents, how can we expect their child to appreciate the side of their classmates?  There you have the root of the bad tree.

 

37.  Our experience is that when there are too many students in a class who perform poorly they slow down the pace of the teacher and dampen the enthusiasm of their classmate to learn.  How many is “too many”?  In the past, we said “more than 10%”; in truth, there is no formula, but the observation stands.  The exception is when these students are trying their best to learn, but in my experience, the students who don’t do well are not usually enthusiastic about school work.

 

38.  Repeaters in Southridge have carried not stigma and suffered no trauma: this is a fact.  I think the students know this, and perhaps this is why they do not really mind repeating the year, but their parents do not usually know it.  Parents should be informed of it, as it may help them accept the fact of their child’s having to repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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            This point should affect our retention policy.  Today, for example, for students who have to take summer classes we reserve slots both in their present level and in the level they enter if they pass summer classes.  Applicant students who perform well in entrance examinations are placed on the waiting list.

 

            For many parents, it seems, it is the embarrassment before their friends and relatives that is intolerable.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

 

 

BUILDINGS, GROUNDS, AND FACILITIES

 

1.  One day in Southridge I saw two primary school students chasing a high school student, who allowed himself to be caught and treated like a maypole.  That’s how Southridge should be—like a family, where children of various ages live, work, and play together.  On the contrary, when on e has all the teenagers or pubescent together, these students tend to think of doing “teenage” things, things they would never do at home before their younger brothers or parents.  The presence of younger children “humanizes” teenagers; the presence of older children gives the younger ones models.  Thus, early in Southridge history we observed that high school and grade school students should always be mixed, that there shouldn’t be a building exclusively for one or the other.

 

2. There is a lesson I shall never forget: how on the second year of Southridge the school grounds were landscaped.  In many schools this is normally done many years after a school has opened.  In the case of Southridge, it was done as soon as possible because the very appearance of the grounds was considered a means of education.

 

3.  The grade school classrooms should be designed to allow teachers to put a lot of exhibits: things tacked on or hung.  We have been quite frustrated by the stone walls and pillars of the first building.

 

4.  We began Southridge in poverty—without water or electricity, crammed into the second floor of the main building, with dust coming from the floors being sanded and the constant noise of construction work the whole day.  I mention this to underline the spirit of Southridge education; that it takes place no matter what, that it does not depend on material surroundings.  On the other hand, we have always tried to get what we needed.

 

5.  The teachers must learn how to create their own teaching aids.  It’s all very good to have Betamax units, slide projectors, film projector, or even hired illustrators, but the teachers must know how to teach with the simplest and cheapest materials in an imaginative way.  I have repeated this since 1979—in vain, because the teachers must be shown what they can do with simple materials and I have never been able to do this.

 

6.  There have been suggestions to put up a swimming pool or tennis courts in the school which I have steadfastly resisted.  The location of the pool is problematic and the tennis courts take up a lot of space while benefiting only a few persons.  On an honest-to-goodness music room or a small theater, and yet these would be of much greater educational and humanistic benefit to the students than the suggested sports facilities.  I am not against sports facilities, but I feel it is unfair that with the sports facilities we already have, nothing is said about the arts which have none.  Besides, the suggested facilities sound as though they were intended to benefit more the teachers than the students on weekends.

 

7.  The first building of Southridge deliberately resembled a home.  The purpose was to underline an idea heard very much in the first years:  that Southridge was a second home.  That idea was repeated less often after we saw how the students (and some parents!) misinterpreted it:  that they could do in Southridge what they could do at home.

 

            The decoration of the school has always striven for an elegant homelike atmosphere.  But we have always lacked flowers.

 

8.  Since 1979, our model for speed and efficiency in doing repairs has been Gaztelueta (cf. its twenty-fifth anniversary book).  We do not seem to have matched it yet; light bulbs are not yet replaced quickly.

 

9.  I think it is important for regular activities to have their own rooms.  Any other situation is a lack of order.  The classes being held in the two large rooms on the second floor of the first building with a wooden partition in between are examples of lack of order.  The present PE department room, the room behind

 

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            The second building of Southridge no longer looks like a home, but tried to resemble one in its roof.  The third building of Southridge bears no resemblance to a home.  The architect tried to include a “reminiscence” of the first building in the little roofs over the windows, but they don’t work.  I hope some way may be found to add something to the new building to make it resemble a home architecturally in some way.  I hope future buildings return to the original concept of Southridge.

 

            The bookstore in the cafeteria is singularly inelegant and looks like a dangerous portent of the future.  The area immediately before the entrance to the Business Office is also inelegant.

 

            We have not yet won the battle for order in Southridge.  To date, the Multi-Purpose Hall remains unfinished.  Repairs take long in accomplishing.

 

the  Faculty Dining Room, and the so-called Music Room are other such examples.  The present kitchen is a sad example of something temporary that has become permanent.  The extension made at the lack of it is ugly and probably poorly designed for a kitchen.  No discussions are going on about a regular kitchen to feed 700 students.  To date there are all sorts of junk at the corner of the Multi-Purpose Hall outside the Work Tech workshop.  The little structure that is the store room for PE equipment is another example of an unfinished project that has become ugly.  I propose the following principles be observed rigorously:

 

(a)  finish whatever is begun down to the last detail as soon as possible; delays last forever;

 

(b)  avoid temporary situations, and if they cannot be avoided rectify them as soon as possible.

 

10.  I think the experience with the new building has taught us not to scrimp where quality is concerned.

 

11.  An important lesson: teachers should have a decent workplace, and any money spent on this, not only to make it functional, but also to make it comfortable and beautiful, is well-spent.  Part of the spirit of Southridge has been to pay attention to beauty.  It is very easy to disregard beauty on the grounds of lack of funds, but that has never been the school spirit.

 

12.  Southridge must have a faculty lounge.  This room should have bookshelves, a record player (or a CD player), tape deck, and television set.  It should be air-conditioned, and it would be better carpeted and with drapes.

 

 

FINANCES

 

1.  Earlier I had mentioned the principle, “Education to the educators; everything else to those competent in them.”  This principle is full of wisdom.  When educators insist on discussing business and financial matters, the discussion tends to go around in circles or to reach a dead end quickly.  Gloom descends on the company and subtly affects the way we go about our work afterwards.  I saw this happen in the first years of Southridge.  It was not unusual to end a Management Staff meeting with a feeling of helplessness and depression after discussing matters we were incompetent to solve.  What a change there when financial matters were passed on to the Parents Advisory Council in 1984.

 

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            Business and financial matters tend to appear urgent, and if one doesn’t watch out, they crowd educational matters out of Management Staff meeting agendas.  This is why the chairman of the meeting must determine quickly whether or not the Management Staff is qualified to decide on a business or financial matter;

 

By this I do not mean to say that the Management Staff never discusses business or financial matters.  Ordinarily, the Business Manager together with Executive Director and after consulting the Board or parent consultants makes the decisions affecting business and finance.  If he cannot decide between options which will have different effects on education, then he should present the options and their possible consequences to the Management Staff and leave, if he wishes the final decision to the educators.  Often, however, he may not even know what consequences an option may have on education.  That is why it is always prudent for him to present problems and his proposed decisions first to the Management Staff.  The Management Staff should discuss educational situations which are either the root of these matters or their possible consequences.  Their discussions guide the Business Manager in his decisions.  The Management Staff should never pass judgment on a decision of the Business Manager insofar as this is a business or financial decision; the group should judge it insofar as it affects education.  If the Business Manager cannot solve a particular problem, he should not expect the Management Staff to be able to do so.  He should consult the appropriate Board members or bring up the matter to the Board.  (He should not do this, however without first informing the Executive Director.)

 

            There are two ways of misunderstanding this principle.  The first is to think that all officers except Business Manager should completely disengage themselves from business and financial matters.  This is wrong.  All officers should help the Business Manager in any way they legitimately can (e.g., enforcing money-saving measures, postponing purchases, giving information); otherwise, they would fall precisely into the error the principle is trying to avoid.  The other way of misunderstanding the principle is for the Business Manager to think that he can handle business and financial matters without consulting the educators in the school.  The Business Manager should never forget he works for the goals of education, not to make money nor even to set up a financially stable organization.  The latter is but a means to an end.  If a school makes money, well and good, but it should never do so at the price of education itself.  Education is the prime concern of the Business Manager.

 

2.  Sometimes the observation is made that, if a particular decision that compromises educational goals is not made, we will end up losing the school itself.  At this point we have reached

 

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if it is not, the matter should be referred to the School Board.  This is what the Management Staff has done since the organization of the Parent Advisory Council which was actually the forerunner of the present School Board.  There was a School Board existing when the Parents Advisory Council was organized, but it was a board that did not actively help the school in business and financial matters

 

the crossroads of faith.  To the businessman’s belief that no other way exists but compromise, we answer with our belief that a way exists which we just have to discover.  In the past, we have always found ways to solve our financial problems without sacrificing the goals of education.  We have never been disappointed.  A school should never tamper with the goals of education because of financial considerations!

 

3.  Is it alright to tamper with educational goals in the present in order to solve certain financial problems, with the intention of restoring them later on once the problems are solved?  This is I think, an ethical question, equivalent to the following: is it ever alright to shortchange parents and their children in education in order to give future parents and their children what we should be giving them now?  Our answer in Southridge has always been no.  We have stood by our principles and never compromised; otherwise, we would be guilty of not practicing what we preach.

 

4. “What about postponing a goal?”  What does such a question mean?  It does not make sense to talk of postponing the struggle to achieve wisdom or virtue or patriotism or professional skills.  That struggle can never be postponed, least of all in a school, and to deliberately put obstacles to that struggle in order to gain money reminds me of Sonya in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

 

5.  THE GOALS OF EDUCATION DETERMINE THE FINANCIAL NEEDS OF THE SCHOOL.  If the achievement of a particular goal implies an amount that is currently beyond the means of the school, we do not abandon the goal, but rather think of ways of raising the amount in a manner which does not compromise other goals of education.  It is easy to turn a school into a profitable institution: admit all who apply, reduce the number of teachers, lower the salaries of teachers, pass all students.  But a school does not exist to earn money, and the best schools in the country have never been free of money problems.  In Southridge, at least up to this date, we have always followed the principle that the goals of the school determine its financial needs; its financial state never determine its goals.

 

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            I am reminded of a film director who told me he was about to make pornographic films to pay his debts, but that he would stop making them as soon as his debts were paid.  He never stopped making them.  Old financial problems are replaced by new ones, and once an unethical solution has been tried, there is no guaranteeing it will not be tried again.

 

            Needless to say, officers should not strain the Business Manager unnecessarily and should, therefore, always see to it that the school’s needs are real, that we are not guilty of luxury or wastefulness.

 

7.  The Founder of Opus Dei followed a principle which we have always followed in Southridge: we spend what we ought though we owe what we spend.

 

 

THE SCHEDULE

 

1.  The amount of time a subject should have per week follows the specifications of the DECS.  We have striven as much as possible to allot at least the minimum time required.  On a few occasions, we have had to allot less time than the minimum.  This was usually done to avoid overloading a teacher or teachers.

 

2.  It seems best to start the class day as early as possible.  A late start usually means that the students who live in the immediate vicinity (presently some 60% of the students) get up late.  A late rise means they go to bed late, which does not usually bode well for their use of time.  They also tend to arrive late.  A late start also means a late dismissal.  It is best to end as early as possible so that students who live in Quezon City can be home early.

 

3.  During most of the history of Southridge, we have had no morning recess.  This was so because we did want to give students unnecessary time for rest.  We felt from the very start that the students had to be toughened.  I now think that perhaps the break is needed by grade school teachers, particularly primary school teachers.  This break presently takes place because of the mid-morning Mass.

 

4.  We used to give teachers the option of going home with the students or staying on till the end of the work day.  After a few years, teachers were required to stay till the end of the day instead.  If I recall, the reason for this was to make sure teachers did spend the few more hours left in the day on school work.  Be that as it may, I believe that up to now we do not require teachers to stay eight hours in school, not counting the lunch break.  They are expected to work an hour at home on school matters.

 

5.  The time for the daily get-together of teachers is counted as part of the teacher’s work hours.  This solves the problem of teachers who would refuse to attend get-togethers because they rightly claimed they could use their lunch break as they wanted

 

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            This is one reason why teachers are not allowed to take on another teaching job after school hours.

 

            The daily get-together of teachers is important.   It forces teachers to rest from school work, avoiding burnout.  It makes for camaraderie among teachers.  Exceptionally, a teacher is allowed to miss the get-together, but usually no more than a twice a week.

 

6.  One other reason why teachers have been asked to remain in school up to the end of the school day is to make sure they are around in case their superior officer wishes to see them or their students wish to consult them.

 

7.  Theodore Sizer suggests that school officials occasionally go through a school day as a student would—sitting in all the classes, taking the breaks students take—to see if the school day is conducive to learning.  I endorse his suggestion.  It is perhaps best tried out by the AD.  Going through the day, we may discover that students are too tired to learn by a certain hour, that certain subjects should not follow one another, that breaks are too long or too short.  I would in fact suggest that the school officials go through an entire week.  They should also do the homework assigned.

 

 

 

 

 

THE SCHOOL YEAR

 

1.  The school year is shaped by the grading periods.  We have four.  We used to have six in grade school, following the DECS.  They were found to be too short; teachers had the sensation of scarcely beginning a lesson; when they had to end and start reviewing for examinations.  Nevertheless, this sensation may have simply been the result of not knowing how to pace one’s lessons for six grading periods a year.

 

2.  High School has a semestral break; Grade School does not.  The reason for this is conversational.  It has also been pointed out in the past that high school teachers need to review the past semester and see whether they have to introduce any changes into their syllabus for the coming semester.  This is why we always tell high school teachers they have to report for work during the semestral break.  If they claim they have no work to do, then the semetral break may be cancelled. Grade school teachers do not need to do this as they need not finish a set of syllabus for the year.  (Grade school students go at their own pace.)  Nevertheless, because of the public holiday on November 2, the Grade School normally has a brief vacation after the first semester.  The Grade School has sometimes finished a week earlier than the High School.  This has been permitted, seeing that the Grade School has no semestral break.

 

3.  The Christmas vacation normally begins on December 18 and ends on January 1.  Since we required teachers to take their

 

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            Nevertheless, schools have the right to assign teachers “lunch duty,” that is, to have them watch over the students during lunch break.  This is common practice in many schools.  To avoid problems this should be specified in the teacher’s contract, if such an assignment is contemplated.

 

entire vacation leave in the summer, then teachers should report for work during the Christmas vacation.  In practice, teachers are allowed to work at home on some of the days they should be working in school during the Christmas holidays.

 

4.  The students’ learning suffers during periods of vacation.  This is always unfortunate, but more so during the Christmas break.  The latter is unavoidably il-timed as it divides the 3rd Quarter; lessons unfinished before the vacation suffer.  It seems best to see the 3rd Quarter as two grading periods,  each with its own subject matter and examinations, or as a quarter which ends before the Christmas break, with only two weeks more when classes resume—one to review and one for examinations.

 

5.  The school year takes further shape from certain school events that students prepare for.  The school year should be so planned that the students are not distracted from their studies or that their studies are not continually disrupted.

 

6.  We should deliberately give the students a sense of beginning and ending the school year of beginning and ending work.  If this sense is lacking, the school year succumbs to monotony.

 

7.  The school follows all DECS rules governing the school calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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            I must admit the present practice on the teachers’ vacation is very complicated.  What makes it so is our desire to train teachers during periods of student vacation.  This was necessary especially before the appointment of Academic Directors, mainly because the great majority of our teachers have always needed training and there has been either little time or no one to train them during the summer.  The Academic Directors have changed the situation greatly.  Perhaps we no longer need the long courses we used to offer teachers during summer; perhaps short seminars or workshops are now sufficient which would allow people greater leeway to choose the dates of their vacation leave.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 10

 

 

THE RATIONALE FOR SCHOOL OFFICERS

 

            The teachers teaching his students in the classroom, the tutor conversing with his tutee on the bench: these are the essential activities of Southridge.  They are the heart of the school.  Education takes place there.  Everything else in the school exists to make these possible, to make sure they succeed to protect them.  Included in “everything else” are the officers.  The officers exist to serve: on the other hand, they serve the teachers and tutors: on the other, the parents.  They serve the teachers and tutors by making sure all the conditions of good teaching tutoring are present; they serve the parents by making sure good teaching and tutoring are taking place.

 

            My understanding of why officers are needed in school follows.

 

            The teacher must be hired by someone; that person, if qualified to hire him, should also be qualified to train and evaluate him and to decide whether to retain or dismiss him.  Something similar should be said of the tutor except that no one is hired as a tutor: the tutor is appointed by someone.  The person who evaluates the teacher should be familiar with the academic program; the person who evaluates the tutor, with the tutorial program.  These persons, whom I shall refer to as the first and second officers, oversee the implementation of their respective programs.

 

 

            It is important that these two programs complement one another.  To ensure that, having a third officer is justified.  This person does not duplicate the work of the other two: he does not oversee their programs.  In case of controversy between the two, he plays the role of arbiter.  He is not, strictly speaking, over the two others; they do not need to account to him for their work.  He is over them only in case of a controversy between them.  In such a case, both accept his decision.

 

            Given the several persons who compose a school and their several activities that take place at the same time using the same facilities over a specific period of time, there is need of a person or group of persons in charge of order.

 

            There is no order when teaching or tutoring cannot be held at all or cannot be held in peace.  Under order falls discipline whether of parents, teachers, or students involving teachers (one teacher against another or a parent and a teacher or a student and a teacher).  It seems appropriate to assign the task of order to the third officer.  The third officer takes charge of the use of buildings, grounds, and facilities, the daily schedule, the school calendar, and the formulation of school rules and regulations, norms of conduct, and procedures.

 

            These three officers are the most important school officers.  Each should organize his own staff.  The first two officers would have trainers under them.  The officer in charge of teachers may, in addition, have assistants in the task of overseeing the implementation of the program.  The third officer may divide teachers, tutors, and students into groups, each under a head who would be in charge of order.  Teacher trainers could be the head of groups of teachers; tutors trainers of group of tutors.

 

            This would result in individuals having more than one person to report to albeit in different matters.  I do not think it is possible to avoid this in a school, and I explain why elsewhere in a paper.  What this does mean, however, is that the three officers must get together to make sure that none of their subordinates is overworked.

 

            Teaching, tutoring, keeping order: are there more tasks in Southridge that demand “a person in charge”?  Teaching and tutoring both demand the use of material things and a place that should be available and ready for use.  The provision of this falls under a fourth officer.  Under that person too would fall all other services which are needed to make teaching, tutoring, and keeping order possible.  The use of material things and the employment of persons imply financial needs: these are answered for by a fifth officer.  An important dimension of the tasks of these two persons as of the task of the third is to allow the first two officers to work without being bothered by matters of order, materials, and money.  These three concerns can easily absorb the attention of educators to the detriment of the education they should provide.  The idea in PAREF schools is that educators concentrate on education.

 

            In a sense, the concern for material instruments and for money falls under the concern for order.  Disorder results when material instruments are not available or there is no money to purchase them.  (“Disorder” in a school is any situation which prevents teaching or learning from taking place.)  Thus, it is appropriate to think of the fourth and fifth officers as being subordinate to the third.  Why not think of them as subordinate to the first two?  If they were subordinate to the first two, the danger could arise of our violating the principle that educators

 

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            Today these are the Academic Directors and Senior Tutors.  In the future, we may have teacher-trainers under the Academic Directors and tutor-trainers under the Senior Tutors.

 

            These would be the Department Heads.

 

            Today, these are the Principal and Vice-Principal.

 

concentrate on education.

 

            The third person is the link between the officers directly concerned with education and those directly concerned with making education possible.  It is thus appropriate that he be designated the head of school.  He would be the head of the school however, in different senses vis-à-vis the different officers.  Vis-à-vis the two officers concerned like him with order, he is truly the head, giving direction to their efforts.  With the two other officers, he is the head only in the sense that he is the chairman when the three of them meet and the arbiter when the two disagree.  His work of ensuring harmony between the two programs is not a sign of headship.  The first two officers make the decisions in their respective areas.

           

            It is fitting that the School Board get in touch with the head of the school every time they want to communicate something to the school.  It is also fitting that the School Board pass through the head of the school when they want to communicate with a specific school officer other than the head.  The head of the school then has the special role of being the link between the school and the School Board.  This is confirmed by his automatic membership ex officio in the Board.  There is nothing wrong with his bringing along with him other officers when the subject matter of the Board meeting is something relevant to their areas.

 

            It is likewise fitting that the head of the school be the link with the DECS.  Following the precedent of Gaztelueta, however, it may be possible to have a “public” head of the school and a “legal” head of the school: In Gaztelueta, in 1978 at least, the legal head of the school was the officer in charge of teachers and not the school director.  The Spanish government apparently did not see something strange in this.

 

            The first three officers, then, are of equal rank.  Why not have all three of them as school heads?  It is better for one of them to be the recognized head of the school for public purposes.  What do I mean by “public purposes”?  What I mean that the Philippine public is not used to a school being run by three persons.  Publicly, therefore Southridge has always had one head; internally, it has always had more than one.

 

            Clearly, there is constant communication between these five.  The first two officers must coordinate with each other and is served by the three others.  The third officer serves the first two and is served by the two others.  The fourth officer serves the first three and is served by the fifth.  The fifth

 

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            Official relations with the DECS (official communications, implementation of directives, etc.) is part of the responsibility of the administrative officer.  Public relations (PR) with the DECS has always been the responsibility of the Principal of Southridge- - Dr. Torralba and now Mr. Galvez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE

 

            These five officers together with a few others constitute a committee that meets regularly.  The preceding paragraphs have sketched some reasons why a regular meeting would be convenient.  Deedless to say, when only two officers need to get in touch with each other, each officer can easily send notes to or ring the other.

 

            The committee these five officers compose, however, is called by PAREF the governing body of the school.  When the committee meets, therefore, it is not primarily to facilitate the work of each of the officers.  (It is difficult to see the work of any individual officer, with the important exception of the third, as being a work of government.)  In fact, a few other persons may be members of this committee whom none of the officers would need to consult for most of the decisions he has to make in his area.  One of them is a Chaplain.

 

            The chaplain is in the Management Staff as the person in charge of spiritual formation in the school, just as there is an officer in charge of academic formation and another of personal formation.  His presence underscores the importance of spiritual

 

 

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            The first Management Staff following the FOMENTO schools was composed of:

 

            The Director

            The Director of Studies

            The Director of Personal Formation

            The Business Manager

            The Executive Secretary

            The Chaplain

 

            I remember a meeting which a parent attended.  The parent was, I was told, the Parent Designate.  I do not, however, recall that the parent attended more meetings afterwards.

           

            Gaztelueta did not have exactly the same officials as FOMENTO schools.  I remember a meeting with some consultants who knew of other schools in Spain whose officials were not quite the ones FOMENTO schools had.  Each school creates the positions it needs.

 

 

formation in PAREF education.  His advice would also be helpful, even necessary, in matters of faith and morals.

 

            The Parent Designate may form part of the committee.  I have mentioned that his role is to supply a point of view.  He is not in charge of any activities going on in school.  His role, then, differs essentially from that of all the other Management Staff members I have mentioned.  Why have someone with a parent’s point of view on the Management Staff?  We should keep in mind that the Parent Designate is not meant to be a representative of the parents in the sense that whatever he says in committee meetings represents the sentiments of all Southridge parents.  Certainly, though, he is seen as a representative parent, in the sense that his reactions are the reactions of a parent.  What value would such reactions have in Management Staff decisions?  Where the goals of education are concerned, such reactions either encourage us in our decisions or caution us about how our decisions should be implemented.  I have deliberately not said that such reactions should discourage us from taking certain decisions.  The popularity of decisions regarding education goals is not important; what is important is the rightness of the decision.  If the right decision may turn out to be unpopular, then we plan how we shall implement or promulgate it, such that we cause as little perturbation as possible.  Where matters of order materials and money are concerned, the parents’ reactions are of greater importance and may be a reason for not making a particular decision.  Nevertheless, the reaction of the Parent Designate should always be seen as a parent’s reaction.  There is nothing wrong, therefore, in deciding in spite of it.

 

            Since last year, am ember of the School Board has also sat in the committee.  There is no precedent for this in Southridge history.  The President of PAREF used to join Management Staff meetings as the head of the Tutorial Department.  I do know that for a time he used to attend Woodrose Management Staff meetings.  I believe the idea was to establish a quick link to the School Board.  Today with two Management Staff members sitting on the School Board, there is no need of such a link to the Board. Before I left in 1990, I understood that Board members would sit on the Management Staff members were new.  I think it is important to ask how the Board members would help the Management Staff members run the school.  It is also important to know when they will cease to sit on the Management Staff.  The reason for their presence must be as clear as that of all the other members.  In 1989, a Board member started joining Management Staff meetings.  I understood the purpose of this to be to supply the point of view of a parent.  That is currently being supplied

 

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            For reasons explained in Chap. 4, the chaplain is under the first two officers, albeit in different ways.  He has no superior officer where the Religion syllabus, the administration of the sacraments, and spiritual direction are concerned.

 

by the Parents Designate.  Could the Board member be on the Management Staff to supply the point of view of the Board?  I do not see the need for this as the Executive Director attends Board meetings and all Management Staff decisions are reviewed by the Board anyway.

 

            What do we mean by “governing the school”?  Government is the job of the helmsman, who has been given a specific destination, is guided by the north star, and whose handling of the ship must take into consideration the ship itself—its “specs” in modern-day jargon.  In his work of government, the helmsman (normally) does not change his destination and cannot do anything about the north star or about the way the ship is: these are all given to him.

 

            The Management Staff also has things given to it, which it should not touch and which should constitute the parameters within which it does its job.  These parameters, these givens, are all the fundamental aspects of the school discussed in the first part of these notes: the goals of education, the PAREF strategy, the programs of education.  I have already talked about what to do when these parameters are questioned.  There remains one point to clarify: who are the educators who may be consulted in relation to the goals of education and the PAREF strategy?  Ideally, these should be educators at the PAREF level.  This would ensure that answers are not given merely to resolve practical difficulties, a danger I foresee if the educators on the Management Staff were to be consulted.  At present, however, there is no such group of educators.  In default of such a group, I suggest the consultation of educators who have worked with Southridge.

 

            The task of governing Southridge is the task of keeping it afloat, sailing in the right direction so that it may reach its destination.  Our destination is the goals of education; our north star, the PAREF philosophy of education.  We keep Southridge afloat by being careful in our admission and judicious in our retention of people and by maintaining order.

 

            The two tasks of government—direction and maintaining order—are equally important.  If we direct the school where it should go without maintaining order, we indulge in an exercise in

 

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            Plans to constitute such a group are old.  The group was to be known as the Technical Committee.  I was the lone member of that committee for a year or two until I moved for its abolition (mainly because my work in Southridge left me no time for the committee).  There was an attempt to revive it around four years ago which again foundered.

 

            I would suggest the following: Dr. Antonio Torralba, Mr. Julius Nazareno, Fr. Javier de Pedro, Mr. Manuel Escasa, and officer serve all the rest.

 

            None of these officers, then, is an island.  The first two officers are different from the rest.  Although each has his own area to take care of, they must keep in close touch with each other, because they have identical goals—the goals of education.  They must understand the goals of education in the same way; thus, they should frequently talk to each other, update each other on developments, share observations.  Each must have the students in mind.  They must be very interested in each other’s area.  Neither should isolate himself, and it would be horrible if a kind of rivalry were to spring up between the two.  The third officer, if he is to play the role of arbiter well, must similarly be in close touch with the other two and must understand the goals of education as the two others do.  Since he is conversant with the two areas, he may be able to see things more deeply than the two.  He should be ready to share his insights.

 

            Since the first two officers have the same teachers and students, share the same facilities, and request for money from the same source, there may be problems of coordination.  These problems, I believe, are best solved by the third officer.  He has a view of the whole the no one else has.  He is also not personally involved in the problems of coordination and would therefore be objective in his handling of the problems.

 

            The third, fourth, and fifth officers must see themselves as a team at the service of the other two, and more concretely of the teachers.  By this I do not mean anything naïve like the third officer tolerating violations of order from the teachers or the fourth officer making unnecessary purchases for teachers or the fifth running the school to raise salaries to astronomical heights.  What I mean is that these officers should exert effort to understand the work of the teachers in order to think of what each can do in his area to make the teacher’s work more effective and efficient.  Passivity, waiting for commands to come from above, is to misunderstand one’s work of service.  Each must keep all the teachers in mind, so as not to make the mistake of satisfying a few at the expense of the many.

 

            Just as the third officer is always alert and ready to serve the first two, so the fourth must be alert and ready to serve the first three, and the fifth, all the rest.  To put obstacles to the work of those who should be served, to drag one’s feet in serving, is to miss the whole point of one’s role in the school.

 

futility, and if we maintain order without directing the school where it should go, we are being silly.  Of these two tasks, the task of direction is the main one.

 

            The task of direction tackles the question of “how do we reach port given these parents, these teachers, these students, these resources, and these times.”  It wrestles with the concrete.  It needs perspicacity and cleverness.  It never compromises with the goals.  It knows when the goals are being attained and, more importantly, what more needs to be done to attain them to a greater degree.  It assumes thinking and reflection.  The more profound the reflection and thorough the thinking, the better.  It often involves conversation, discussion.  It is realistic, sees possibilities and limitations, knows how to make the most of the former, how to go around or neutralize the latter.  It is based on analysis.  Where a door is closed, it knows how to open windows.  It is patient.  It knows when to be silent and when to speak, when to be firm and when to be gentle.  It can distinguish between the sham and the genuine in the achievement of the goals.  It is creative and imaginative in the solution of problems, when obstacles seem insurmountable, when there seem to be no means, when the very people in the ship (parents or students or teachers) seem unenthusiastic about the ship’s destination.  He should not, therefore, be fixed in his ideas, enamored of formulas.  He should not only think a lot and talk a lot, but also read a lot.

 

            The task of maintaining order is the task of self-

 

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            It is at this moment that the nobility of the educator’s task shines most clearly.  We must have faith in the human being that he is made for truth and goodness and that, no matter how indifferent a particular person may seem to truth and goodness, ha can be brought to love them.  The teacher’s task will often seem thankless, not only because the students do not seem to appreciate his efforts, but also because the students’ parents seem not to either.  But the teacher must be patient and work continuously to win both student and parent to his vision of education.

 

            Occasionally, someone will come up with a suggestion that has already occurred to the Management staff and which the Management Staff has rejected, or a quick analysis of the suggestion shows that it is based on faulty reasoning or a faulty understanding of the situation.  Thus, the Management Staff does not try out the suggestion.  That is not to have fixed ideas; rather, that is to be several steps ahead of the sources of suggestions.  It would be crazy to try out every suggestion (which only someone seeking popularity would seek to do).  All suggestions should be subjected to rigorous analysis.  Unfortunately, many non-educators think the solution of educational problems is no different from choosing the right color for one’s upholstery.

 

preservation.  Government is too often reduced to this, which is a mistake.  Order is not maintained for its own sake.  We preserve ourselves for a purpose.  Government looks after order to make sure that teaching and learning can take place effectively and efficiently.

 

 

The Abuse of Collegiality

 

            The task of direction and order comprehends everything done in the school.  Thus, the temptation exists of making the task of governing the school totalitarian.  As a matter of fact, it probably was totalitarian at least for the first five years of the school, but understandably so because the first Management Staff was establishing Southridge and we had to discover the right way of doing everything.  Circumstances today twelve years later are, of course, completely different.  The Management Staff can no longer be said to be establishing Southridge, at least not in the sense the first Management Staff was.  I mention this to underscore the fact that what the first Management Staff of Southridge did cannot be cited as precedents for succeeding Management Staffs.  There are things the first Management Staff did which no succeeding Management Staff should do.

 

            I think the Management Staff should be very careful about totalitarianizing the government of Southridge or aspects of it.  It must observe the principle of subsidiarity very strictly, and it must start with the very officers who compose it.  It should never do the work its own officers are supposed to do as individuals, and this should begin with decision-making and planning.  It should respect the decisions and plans made by the officers who compose it, so long as these are legitimate options.  The only time it should question decisions and plans of an officer is when these, albeit legitimate options in themselves, affect other areas of the school not under that officer.

 

            “Give the decisions and plans of those with the authority to make them the benefit of the doubt”: this should be a principle the Management Staff follows.  When days, weeks, or

 

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            I discuss order at length in Chap. 13.

 

            Decentralization began in 1984 with the appointment of the first Head Teachers.  Further decentralization took place in 1989 with the appointment of five Academic Directors.

 

            I have said on different occasions that the establishment of a school would take twenty-five to fifty years.  By this, I meant the establishment of traditions, the verification of programs.  Fifty years would mean two generations, the minimum, I think, to see whether a program is good or not.  I still hold to this opinion.  Nevertheless, the task of establishing Southridge today is obviously different from the task of establishing it twelve years ago when it did not yet exist.

 

months later, the Management Staff sees they do not work, then they may be changed.  Not to follow this is risky in the long run.  The biggest risk is that the mistaken opinion of the less competent or incompetent may prevail with costly consequences.  Then, too, the officer whose decisions and plans are continually shelved may become discontented.

 

            I am not saying that other officers should not offer alternative to what one officer is proposing.  What I am saying is that, if the first proposal is a legitimate option, leave the final decision on which proposal will prevail to the officer whose area is affected.  If more than one area is affected, then let the officers of those areas decide among themselves.  I would not put every item in the agenda to a general vote.

 

            Since all of us have personally experienced education and know what worked and what didn’t with us, we tend to think we know how to educate.  How many parents have I met who have never taken a single Education course in their life and who have never ever taught who pontificate shamelessly about how we should do our job of education.  Education is not a job for amateurs, and neither is making decisions or plans about education.  Appointment to the Management Staff does not make one knowledgeable in education.  In matters involving technical expertise, e.g., pedagogy and finances, we should always follow the principle that only those competent in them should make decisions.  I shudder to think of the mistakes someone incompetent in finance could commit if asked to decide on loans from banks; I shudder as well to think of someone incompetent in education making decisions on standards or the maximum class size.

 

            If a matter demands expertise, an incompetent or inexperienced person should refrain from voting on it.  At the moment, it may still happen that the majority of the Management Staff are incompetent in education.  (Years of teaching do not make one competent in education.)  Thus, the danger of committing boners is real.  What should be done then if a matter demanding expertise is up before the Management Staff?  I think all Management Staff members without any expertise in the matter

 

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            He should not be, if the other decision or plan is better, but he may not see how the other decision or plan is better, and thus may react hardly.  I have witnessed such bad reactions.  This is the reason why I would say that Management Staff members should, if possible, be of above-average intelligence; if not, they should have a disposition which is open to other people’s ideas or trusts other people’s opinions.  Otherwise, we invite trouble.

 

            Or to the School Board or the Board of Trustees.

 

            One may simply be competent in, say, teaching Algebra.

 

should listen to the opinion of the officer or officers with expertise, and decisions should be left to them.

 

            Much of what I have said regarding matters that demand competence may also be said of other matters, this time demanding experience.  Such matters could arise any area of responsibility in the school.  When they do, I think less experienced Management Staff members should listen to the more experienced or consult people in or out of the school experienced in the matter.  Experience counts for a lot in education!  Education is an art, not a science, and as in all arts, much time must pass before one acquires practical wisdom.  That is a fact.  Many of the solutions (and even more analysis) which occur quickly to newcomers in the Management Staff are conventional solutions (even if they don’t appear so to the excited newcomer).  Southridge is a young school: nevertheless, twelve years are twelve years, and the past officers of Southridge did a lot of thinking, so that it should come as no surprise that very many conventional solutions have been tried or at least considered in Southridge.  This is the reason why consultation will never be a waste of time; it avoids the repetition of mistakes.

 

            Of course, the mere fact that something has been tried in the past and failed does not mean it should never be tried again.  But before trying again, we should investigate why it had failed in the past.  The circumstances of the present should be compared with those of the past, and if the present situation is different, why not try again what had previously failed?

 

            What should be done, therefore, when a matter demanding experience is up before the Management Staff?  First of all, it is important to determine whether or not experience is significant to the matter at hand.  Once it has been determined that experience is significant to it.  I would say that the advice of the Management Staff member or members actually experienced in the matter should carry a lot of weight and that those with less experience would do well to follow their advice.

 

            It seems that everything I have just said threatens that important characteristic of Southridge government—collegiality.  This characteristic of Southridge government is a direct influence of Msgr. Escrive who championed collegial government in institutions “to avoid tyranny.”  We must not understand tyranny

 

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            The Management Staff would have to decide who among them have the expertise needed.  It is impossible to identify other persons outside the Management Staff who have the expertise and who can be consulted, preferably by the officer concerned.  The current Management Staff has the Sc to help in matters of pedagogy and School Board members in matters finance.

 

            Keep in mind that it is possible to have taught many years in Southridge and have no experience about some aspect of it.

 

as one-man rule; that is monarchy.  Tyranny is one-man rule gone mad.  Gone mad in what sense?  In the sense that government no longer follows reason, no longer upholds justice.  Collegiality in Southridge government is there to ensure that government follows reason that it upholds justice.

 

            This does not mean that collegiality in itself ensures that government follows reason, that it upholds justice.  Collegiality is not a talisman.  I think it is obvious that a committee can with the best of intentions violate reason and justice because of the incompetence or inexperience of its members in certain matters it has to act on.  Appointment to a committee, I repeat, does not give one competence or experience.  A sincere desire to follow reason and to uphold justice demands that we allow the opinion of competent and experienced persons prevail, and that would not be a violation of the reason why Southridge government is collegial.  Obviously, we allow the opinion of even hust one man prevail on the condition that it is reasonable and just.  What would be a violation of collegiality would be silence when a proposal seems unreasonable or unjust: when faced with a matter outside his own area.  THIS, and not expressing his opinion for the sake-of doing so is the main duty of the Management Staff member.

 

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            Doesn’t my appointment to the Management Staff mean that the persons who appointed me think I have the requisite competence and experience?  One sits in the Management Staff in Southridge because of one’s position.  Form one’s appointment to a position one may deduce that the appointers think we have the needed competence and experience for the position, but only for that position.  As far as the Management Staff is concerned; we may only assume the appointers think we have the requisite common sense not to insist on a personal opinion in a matter we have neither competence nor experience in.

 

            It is unjust when it harms an area in the school or impedes work there.

 

            We should avoid the mentality of speaking up to get Brownie points.  And if we do speak up and a chorus of voices agrees with us, that means nothing where matters involving expertise or experience are concerned, unless the voices come from the competent or experienced.  Huge numbers do not make the ignorant wise.

 

            Could it ever happen that all or most Management Staff members are competent and experienced in all or most matters?  No, even if the plan of rotating administrative posts among teachers is followed.  The administrative officer, business manager, chaplain, Parent Designate, and Board member would not be involved in this rotation, and thus they would never get the chance to acquire competence or experience in all or most matters.  They make up a good proportion of the Management Staff.

 

            We can appreciate this point even more when we consider the difference between the Management Staff and the School Board.  Each member of the Management Staff is there as a person with a definite responsibility or title and because of that responsibility or title.  Not so with the Board members.  What this means is that each Management Staff member has a particular role to play on the Management Staff, aside from what we may call his “collegiate role.”  This means supplying the point of view of the area one is responsible for whenever an item comes up in the agenda.  This also means that, when one plays one’s collegial role, that is, when one’s own, one should keep in mind that there is someone in the Management Staff in whose area the agenda item falls directly.  This not usually the case in School Board meetings, and if someone on the School Board has a definite responsibility, this is usually ad hoc.

 

            We have wandered into the topic of roles.  The reason why several points of view are represented in the Management Staff is to make sure that no decision is made that harms any aspect of the school.  (From this point of view, it is clear that the Parent Designate is present only for strategic reasons, since he does not represent the parents.)  If the item up for discussion does not fall in one’s area. Let the officer in whose area it falls speak up first.  Let his proposal be discussed.  If one has an objection which corresponds, not to one’s area, but to someone else’s, let him give that other person the chance to speak first.  Let him wait.  After the discussion of the proposal of the officer “on the firing-line” or if the discussion of the proposal reached an impasse, then let him make his own proposal.  If one’s area will not be harmed by any of the alternatives, then I would advise supporting the proposal of the officer whose area is directly affected.

 

            Every officer should make it possible for his colleagues to dissent intelligently.  He should not, therefore, rush their

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and thus I do not think what I have said about competence and experience would ever become irrelevant.  What could happen, though, is that the top three officials constitute a kind of committee within the committee, authorized to meet separately and make certain decisions that may, in certain cases, be valid without the vote of the rest.  (The rest should be informed as soon as possible and may move to rescind a decision made by the committee within the committee.)  In fact, this is exactly what happened in the Management Staff under Dr. Torralba.

 

            The Parent Designate and Board member are on the Management Staff because of their respective titles.

 

            Sometimes the point of view of an officer qua officer of a specific area our own area is irrelevant to the matter at hand.  In that case, he does not need to speak up.

 

approval.  He should present the background of his decision clearly, and if possible, other alternatives he has rejected and the reasons for his rejecting them.  He should present the reasons for his decision.  Needless to say, he should not react in any way that discourages dissent or a request for more time to think from his colleagues.  At the same time, his colleagues should have common sense; there is no sense in asking for more time if the patient will be dead by then.  If Management Staff members need to work overtime, then they should do so.  Later on they may correct their colleague, if appropriate, for having delayed too long in presenting the matter.

 

            Each Management Staff member should be zealous for his own area, but he should be zealous above all for the school, that is, he should always keep the goals of education and the PAREF philosophy of education in mind.  This means he should not be so shortsighted as to oppose a proposal only because it will make life more complicated for his office; if the proposal is necessary to achieve our goals, then let him welcome the complications.

 

            There are two more points I would like to make before we go on to another topic.

 

            First, votation makes no sense where discovering the truth or matters of principle are concerned.  If the goals of education, the PAREF philosophy of education, or the Southridge programs of education are unclear, then we inquire of the people who would know.  Voting will not make an interpretation of these basic matters right.  Voting makes sense only when more than one legitimate option is on the table.  It is possible that the choice of an option is dictated by certain principles; in that case, there is no need to vote on it.  As I said earlier, there is no need to put every item on the agenda to a vote.

 

            The second point is that it is only government that is collegial in Southridge.  I would distinguish management from government.  Management in Southridge is presently not collegial and need not be.  Even if we do occasionally talk of the Management Staff as running the school, this does not mean that every Management Staff member is the manager of every area in the school; certainly, the managers of the different areas should not be seen either as “puppets” of the Management Staff.  (The principle of subsidiarity above all!)  But the Management Staff runs the school in the sense that ultimately all managers are accountable to the Management Staff for what they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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            Although there are instances when this cannot be avoided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 12

 

 

WHO ANSWERED TO WHOM

 

            Earlier, I said it seemed logical to place the officers in charge of administrative services and finances under the officer in charge of order.  it may be harder to appreciate this in the case of the finance officer than in the other officer’s case.  In the beginning of Southridge, we toyed with the idea of the business manager as being the equal of the first three officers.  For various reasons, we never got to try this out.  When I was Executive Director, however, the Board insisted on making the BM directly accountable to the ED.  I resisted at first, because I thought this would violate the principle of educators concentrating on education.  The Board argued, however, that it was but natural for the head of the school to be on top of its finance man as well.

 

            Writing these notes has helped me to see the wisdom of their position.  By its very nature the concern for order demands a head, and if we will define order as that situation that allows teaching and learning to take place effectively and efficiently, then certainly financials are very much part of that situation.  This need not mean that the ED should be knowledgeable in the intricacies of finances, but he should know in broad strokes what the school’s financial situation is and why.  The Board members are always there to advise him.  He serves as the link between the educators and the non-educators, informing the latter of school needs and the former of our financial possibilities.  He is invaluable for the priorities he sets before non-educators and for the warnings he can give them if a certain situation has become intolerable and needs emergency measures.  He is likewise invaluable for getting the sympathy of educators for the difficulties of nom-educators and persuading them to be patient.  Unless he is knowledgeable in financial matters, though, he should not evaluate the BM insofar as the latter is the officer in charge of finance.  He should evaluate the BM as professional.

 

            Should the first two officers be under the third?  They were not under Dr. Torralba.  The first three officers were considered equals.  Of course, publicly the first two treated the third officer as the head of the school.  Internally, however, the first three officers behaved as equals with the third officer acting as chairman in Management Staff meetings.  When I was Executive Director, I placed the first two officers under the third.  I then thought it was the best way to make sure they were working as they should.  I believe I was justified then because the persons in these positions were new and needed to be trained.  After writing these notes, however, I think that the old arrangement was correct: the three officers should be equals.  The reason I think this way is explained at the start of this chapter, where I describe the areas of responsibility of these three officers.

 

            To whom do the three officers report?  They report to the Board and to each other.  Who evaluates them? I propose that they evaluate one another.  Their mutual evaluation will, I think, stress how important it is for all three of them to be united to one another.  Among all the officers, they are directly in charge of the educational activities of the school.

 

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            This is what I had agreed on with the President of PAREF before my departure in 1990.

 

            I was their trainer.

 

            I do not think they should send one another their evaluations of each other.  These evaluations should be submitted to the President of PAREF.  He should talk individually to all the three officers about the evaluations they received and gave.

 

            The majority of the Management Staff members should be educators in the broad sense of the word, i.e., at least teachers.  In the FOMENTO Management Staff, four (including the priest who is usually a teacher) out of the six members (seven if we include the Parent Designate) are educators; in Gaztelueta, five out of six (they don’t have a Parent Designate, as far as I know), are educators.  When, because of absences, the educators in the Management Staff are not the majority in a meeting, I would suggest that decisions on educational matters be suspended until the absent members who are educators give their vote.

 

            The Management Staff is ultimately only as good as the educator on it and even then only if the non-educators on it respect the educators.  The educators on the Management Staff should have a keen and penetrating mind, capable of seeing something wrong when there is as yet only a slight indication.  If they are mediocre educators, the school will eventually end up.

 

 

The Management Staff as Helmsman

 

            Of the two tasks of government, I had said that the task of direction was the primary one.  It means that Management Staff members should know the goals of education and the PAREF philosophy deeply.  It is this deep knowledge that will bring the individual Management Staff member to ask incisive questions about his own work and that of his colleagues.  It will give meaning to the principle that every Management Staff member accounts for his work to the Management Staff.

 

            The reason I say this is that I have noticed on a member of occasions how Management Staff members slip into somnolence when the subject matter of the meeting is academics or tutorials.  (I do not refer only to the last three years.)  Perhaps these are dull subject matter.  Perhaps too many technical terms are used.  When finer points of teaching or tutoring are discussed, I find that these often “go over the head” of other Management Staff members.  People are awake when the subject matter is the number of failing students, but the interest in this subject matter seems to be rooted, not in a concern for education, but in the desire not to displease parents.  The same thing is true of the textbook issue; I do not recall any discussion of its pedagogical dimension which is surely what is most important.  The same thing may be said of the maximum class size as subject matter.  Education itself—whether the students are learning –is rarely discussed.  And yet education is the concern of the school, and good news about education should bring Management Staff members joy.

 

            Who is to blame for the somnolent stares?  The officer making the report or the officers listening to him?  Both.

 

            Educators have to be their own PR agents.  We have got to let non-educators know what is happening in the school, and what is happening in the school cannot be related by statistics.  We give people an idea of what’s going on only through anecdotes,        Who is to blame for the somnolent stares?  The officer making the report or the officers listening to him?  Both.

 

            Educators have to be their own PR agents.  We have got to let non-educators know what is happening in the school, and what is happening in the school cannot be related by statistics.  We give people an idea of what’s going on only through anecdotes, many anecdotes.  And to gather them we must be in touch with the teachers, tutors, academic directors, and senior tutors.  The non-educators need these; otherwise, they forget the purpose of a school and see it only as an institution they have to keep in order or financially afloat.  Looking back I realize the importance of the occasional lunches or suppers Dr. Torralba, Mr. Nazareno, and I used to take together.  They were occasions to talk in leisurely fashion about the school and could last up to three hours, perhaps more, and in the course of the conversation, the anecdotes would arise, one after the other, funny, not so

 

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offering mediocre education.  Management Staff members, especially the non-educators, have a moral obligation to know deeply at least the goals of education and the PAREF philosophy of education.

 

funny, illuminating, and the task of working in a school have their share of work to do, too, to come to love education.  They must try to achieve a deep theoretical and practical understanding of the goals of education and the PAREF philosophy.  The interest in these will drive Management Staff members to read, to listen, to attend seminars and workshops, to observe classes, to talk to parents, to discuss, to question in an effort to deepen their knowledge.  It will never occur to them to think that they have no time to do all this, because this is all intimately related to their work.  Before I left this year, some Board members, parent coordinators, school officers, and academic directors had lunch together.  The reason was to find out why there were so many failing students and whether the school was doing anything about this.  In the course of the meeting which lasted for several hours, many concrete details about the teachers’ work and efforts came out and I thought I saw how Board members and parent coordinators were much gratified by these.  This must, I think, be repeated, not only with Board members and parent coordinators, but especially with Management Staff members.  Management Staff members must love the school, not in some abstract fashion but in the concrete.  They must be put in touch with teachers, tutors, and students.  I believe this is the very deep and wise reason for requiring all Management Staff members except the business manager and administrative officer to teach.

 

            Given a Management Staff which has a deep understanding of education, even if they are not “experts” at this, so long as

 

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            I fear the presence of too many non-educators on the Management Staff.  If the Management Staff were composed of the following,

 

            the head of the school

            the officer in charge of academics

            the officer in charge of tutorials

            the officer in charge of spiritual formation

            the business manager

            the administrative officer

            the parent designate

            the School Board representative

 

50% of the Management Staff would be non-educators.  That the administrative officer today happens to have been a teacher is a coincidence.  I fear we are setting a dangerous precedent.

 

they love it, it would be a joy accounting for one’s work to them (I guess I refer above all to the first two officers, the most important of all the officers.)

            the task of direction is carried out above all between school years: to assess the school year just finished and to set objectives for the school year to come.  A progress report at the end of each quarter would keep the Management Staff up to date on the year’s objectives; perhaps, a mid-year report would be sufficient.  Most of the year is taken up with the task of maintaining order.  but the most important work of Management Staff members is that keeping their antennae up being on the alert for what can help teaching and tutoring, for signs that we are doing our job or failing at it.  Not to do this means to rely exclusively on information we receive in Management Staff meetings, but such information is often a pale shadow of reality, a generalization, a light sketch.  The worst can be happening without our realizing it.  I recall a piece of advice given to me by the principal of a school in Spain.  During breaks, he said, the principal should walk along the corridors of the school.  If the principal is a good one, he will “feel” that everything is right or that there is something wrong.  This sensitivity to the way things should be, this capacity to catch subtle odors both good and bad, should be developed by all Management Staff members and exercised not only in the corridors of the school among the schoolchildren, but everywhere, with parents and teachers as well, looking at the test papers of one’s tutee. Observing teachers resting in the afternoon, listening to a class one passes.

 

The Spirit of Collegiality

            The Southridge officer will, even when he does not need to (legally speaking), seek a second opinion before making a decision.  I use “Southridge” as a distinguishing characteristic of the officer.  He does nothing wrong if he would not seek a second opinion, but he would not be acting like a Southridge officer.  This has nothing to do with indecisiveness.  Even after getting a

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            As far as I can recall, the Management Staff has never been able to do this.  In the first years of Southridge, we had assessment meetings at the end of the school year.  I do not recall though that the outcome of these was objectives for the next school year.  I do not recall any meeting in which objectives for the next school year were identified.  Two years ago we had such a meeting, but I do not recall that objectives were derived from the assessment seminars held then.  This does not mean Southridge has been proceeding aimlessly the past twelve years.  For many years what should be worked on for the next year was obvious, precisely because the school was just starting.  Since a few years ago, what should be worked on for the next year has no longer been as obvious and has needed a more acute analysis to identify.  This is a sign of stabilization.

second (or third) opinion contrary to his own, he may decide to go ahead with his original decision.  That would be a legitimate move, but the fact that he consults shows his awareness of his personal fallibility.

            It is easy to become a little (or big) tyrant in Southridge in spite of the existence of a collegial body like the Management Staff.  Even if the Management Staff were to decree it, it would not be able to keep track of everything happening in every area in the school, and if it were to decree that absolutely no decision of any sort should be taken without first being cleared with the Management Staff, the school would soon be paralyzed.  The concept of and Omniscient or Omnipotent Management Staff is chimerical.  It would violate the principle of subsdiarity.  And so there are areas in the school in which one could act as king, making decisions by oneself, meriting the name of “tyrant” in the sense that one always has one’s way.  The danger is when one’s way is always or usually correct.  If it were the reverse, one would soon be replaced.  The danger is not immediately to the school, but to oneself, and therefore ultimately to the school.  The danger is pride or vanity or envy or anger, and once any one of these manages to worm its way into an officer’s system, havoc in the whole school will be wreaked.

           

 

            We have thus tried to minimize monarchy in every area of responsibility:  the officer in charge of teachers formulates policies together with the AC; the officer in charge of tutors, with the PFC; the officer in charge of order with the Management Staff; and the business manager with the School Board.  Even the Chaplain has a Council of Spiritual Formation (or the Personal Formation Council).  And all these officers are encouraged to consult members of these committees frequently.

            The Academic Council and Personal Formation Council are composed of persons of more or less equal competence and ideally of more of less equal experience.  Thus, the danger of abuse of

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            I recall a new Management Staff member who proposed this.  Dr. Torralba and I smiled knowing it was impossible.  The proposal was soon forgotten.  In the beginning, though, the Management Staff did not control everything—understandably, as we were establishing the school.  But after the first two or three years, it clearly became possible only at the cost of mental health.

            Business matters which the business manager may decide on his own should always be first consulted with the Executive Director and one of the Board members.

            One can reduce this to absurdity.  If a precedent has been set, there is no need to consult.  One moves according to the precedent.  Consultation is advisable when there is something new.

collegiality in these meetings is either minimal or nil.  Consequently, it would be very good for everyone to speak his mind out to these meetings and for the less experienced to ask the more experienced for the reasons for their proposals.  Collegiality is been in these committees.

            Management Staff meetings when the topic falls in the area of the head of the third officer, may, I believe, take place like the meetings of the Academic Council and Personal Formation Council.  Needless to say, when the Management Staff discusses a topic in which most or all areas are equally involved, the meeting can also take place like the above.