An edited SASPA 2014 Conference Blog on the presentation by Professor David Giles, Dean of Education, Flinders University, entitled, “Humanity and Leadership”

These comments are an extract of notes taken by Susan (see below for more detail). Susan’s notes have allowed for a deeper, personal reflection. Often, as educators, we critique our powerpoints, our notes, our impressions of a presentation. Susan’s notes have allowed me to ‘hear’ myself as I am being heard by another. It reminds me of Emanuel Levinas who said, we can only see ourselves through the eyes (words) of another. Sincere thanks for this gift Susan

David begins with Maori acknowledgement of country. Nice touch, reminds me that we should learn the kaurna words.

The power and relationships in education.
Individual endeavour will not get us to where we want to go, and what we want to know. Thus the prevailing (reductionist, political) construct of society says we are a collection of individuals. He is being very passionate about this, and it is a troubling idea indeed.

He intends to explore the idea of mood, the ‘life’, and the nature of relationships in a school.

We can feel the mood of a place before anything is spoken …..
We are in the relationships that underpin the mood and the life of the organisation.
Are people expressing themselves, or keeping quiet?
Are they focusing on the power relationships, keeping their heads in, like turtles?
He reminds us that, as leaders, we are the guardians of the mood.

The relationships we share ‘exist’ in the space and mood ‘between’ us. We are both responsible for mood and the life of the relationship.
The I -it relationship, someone organising you, emotionally blackmail, telling you, manipulating you (being it-ed)
The I-thou relationship, we do it together, discuss, negotiate ….

He relates a powerful story about a relationship with a student in NZ, exemplifying his motto, relationships always matter.

As leaders of schools, how do we detect and take care of the mood between us in the school?

We arrived today, sensing the mood, the openness, affirmation of relationships, David senses that the SASPA in good health, lots of connections.

How can set about influencing the mode and life of the organisation from the inside?
Consider the use of Appreciative inquiry, and questions such as, What do we stand for? What is our special character? unique contribution? known for? what do we want to known for?

He charges us with this task.
You leadership task is to become relationally aware, to tune into patterns of relationships.
Releasing others to take power and responsibility for what they do.

Lovely Garth boomer quote about strategic relationships. Look it up on the slides.

How do you attune to the mood? What strategies do you use to influence the life of the school?
He is concerned that we have been diverted by plans and reports rather then culture. We can be efficient and compliant, will this look after the life, the culture and relationships in the school?

Thanks David.

Best wishes
Susan Hyde
Principal, Australian Science and Mathematics School


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