Friday, September 10, 2021

Every time I thought I'd got it made It seemed the taste was not so sweet (David Bowie)

Photo by Håkon Grimstad on Unsplash

hanges, Part 3 (and final).

Mark Manson: 

The real question is...what values are we choosing to base our actions on? What metrics are we choosing to use to measure our life? And are those good choices - good values and good metrics?

The following thoughts came to me after I'd written out my list of changes in the previous post.

It struck me that the value I posited in the first of these three posts on my changes - that I choose to work in education to serve others with integrity, although it sounds good, didn't reveal enough, as, in truth, I have based my personal decisions on other values, and measured my pathway in other metrics.

To backtrack a little before 1983 (where I started my changes in the previous post), I would say that my post school metric was to prove to myself that I wasn't the failure that I'd turned out to be at school. 

That drove me onward for 6 years - through a Master's degree at Auckland University and then teacher training.

From then on it became a search to prove myself to my father and seek validation from him.

Teaching didn't rate highly as a profession with him, but if I could get promotions and eventually become a Principal - then, maybe then, he'd be proud of me and think more highly of teaching.

Pushes and pulls to and from my father were a feature of my life from 1983 (the year mum passed away) to 2009 (when dad passed away).

That's why we moved back to Auckland and away from Auckland so often.

When dad remarried in 1987, Jacky and I soon afterwards went to live in Nelson (for four years, returning eventually to Auckland). Subconsciously, I think I realised a few things in those years, but I was still searching for that validation.

Of course, none of these things were articulated between us at all. Instead, I wrote a poem in 1993 called Paternity Soot which starts off:

And so here I am,

still walking toward you.

after all these years.

An old campaign, living

your impossible expectations.

When will you allow me

that elusive

pat on the back?

Eventually I became Principal at Stratford High School and I finally had some validation; although it wasn't directly from dad. Instead, he proudly told others about his oldest son who was a headmaster and then they would tell me.

When he died in 2009, I was thrown into crisis. What do I do now? Suddenly my values were turned upside down, challenged completely and my metric needed to change, but it took a few years to grasp that idea, and it took a while before I could form a new one.

First, I needed to get away - abandon teaching in the public system in NZ, go to the Middle East as a consultant, and not think about my career for a while. The following adventure in China proved that I wasn't quite ready yet. 

That would have to wait until a few years into my time at Woodford House.

That's where it dawned on me - I can continue to offer something to school leadership, some value that exists on its own terms without having the need for my dad's approval and acceptance. I'm a slow learner.

Being a Campus Principal at OneSchool Global really suits me (the UK hiccup was a good wakeup call - you can't get it right all of the time and not everyone will like my Purdzillaness).

So, I've come full circle - back to that value expressed in bold in my first of these three posts, which now makes much more sense. 

I love the fact that I've been a teacher for most of those 38 years: serving others, offering what I can, being driven by the most important value I can think of - integrity.


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