Friday, June 27, 2014

My self-esteem is heating up the room (Jessica Lea Mayfield)

Every once and a while a news story comes along that reminds me what a small, petty minded place New Zealand is.

Usually the story is about a school student who has upset the school rules in some way - jewellery, a uniform breach or, as in this case, hair. 

The student refuses to comply (even though they've chosen the school and said they'll abide by the school's expectations).

They dig their toes in.

His or her (often) liberal parents get on their high horse and challenge the school, the media then gets involved and the whole thing blows up into a cause célèbre.

It's all so boringly predictable. Suddenly lawyers get involved and it becomes a winner/loser situation. 

Thanks to this 'story' everything we try to do in schools about restorative practices becomes something of a joke. 

The end result in this case was the school was found to be at fault on a technicality. Their hair rules weren't specific enough!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

The student and parents were right. The school was wrong. Please. It's hair. 

It's a nothing story.

There are bigger things happening in education. Great things. Innovative things. But the debate becomes about rules.

I spent Friday engaged in a PD win/win discussion about what future learning at Woodford House would look and feel like. It was an inspirational session. It was a move away from an industrial model to an innovative approach to learning.

It won't make headlines anywhere but, potentially, it was far more important than a petty story about hair.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Through sacrifice - bliss (Joseph Campbell)

My friend and mentor, Colin Prentice, passed away today.

I have been very lucky in my life. I've known quite a number of genuinely good people. 

Amazing people who see the good in others, see wrongs and try to right them, see suffering and try to heal, act with integrity, are genuine and nice people. Inspiring people.

My parents, Jacky, my friends. 

I try to be good. To be of good character. To live well and serve. But I have often fallen short.

In terms of male role models I  can immediately make a list of five whose example I have admired over the years, looked up to and tried to emulate. Some are younger than me.

They are the one's I think - what would ---- do/ think?

Colin Prentice and my father (Graham Purdy) are the topper most of that list.

Lucky old me. I got to thank them many times for what they'd done for me. And, certainly, I was lucky enough to do that shortly before they each passed away.

Colin sent me back a lovely message last week, thanking me for my beautiful words. Humbled me incredibly.

He was fond of this poem by Langston Hughes. Used it a lot when he was a Principal. So much that I know it off by heart. I always hear it in his distinctive voice.

It seems appropriate to leave you with it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Virtue mine honour (Macleans College motto)

Where there is no vision the people perish (Proverbs 29: 18 in the King James version): a favourite quote by Colin Prentice - a man of extraordinary vision.

I received word recently from Colin's wife, Margaret, that the boss has a terminal illness. My comment to Jacky was that Colin's rock solid faith will mean he will be at peace with that. The video posted on a Facebook Friends Of Colin Prentice page confirmed exactly that.

My life has been blessed with some amazing teachers and sources of inspiration whose influence has remained with me.

Colin is right up there - one of those people who matters most.

Colin was a charismatic leader at Macleans College when I joined the staff there in 1986. He taught us all a lot by just being genuine, being virtuous, being himself - a deeply spiritual man, strong in his convictions, deliberate in his methods, and compassionate.

I don't use the term 'charismatic' lightly. Colin has a compelling ability to inspire devotion in others (we love him) which comes from divinely given powers and set of talents.   

He has touched the lives of an incredible number of people - staff and students at all the schools he has taught at or lead, World Vision, the University Of Auckland.

He has that uncanny ability to make you feel special. Each one of us who worked with him has felt that.

I am so thankful that our paths crossed.  He sowed the seed of dreams in all of us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.