Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Missions, Visions, Values

Posted on | September 10, 2011 | No Comments

There was much talk in Quebec recently about a recommendation to regroup grade school and high school teachers into some kind of professional order. The debate followed an article in La Presse which showed the great difficulty, the impossibility even of getting red in our public institutions of incompetent teachers, even those who have a negative influence on our children.

The obvious culprit pointed out right at the onset was the union which generally protect its members without caring too much for the impact on the institution and those it educates. While I’d like to steer away from cliché, excess zeal can indeed happen occasionally in this area. We have all met or, if we have been extremely unlucky, were taught by one of these teachers.

But what I see beneath the surface is rather a great social uneasiness which is rooted in the lack of shared values among all participants. This very lack of values prevents the establishment of a sensible social and moral contract that would efficiently protect the interest of all parties while allowing us to control, and at worst weed out the more pernicious

A value is something like this: to see access to education as a fundamental need for the survival of our collective political model, first, but also of our own individual survival in a world where knowledge is getting richer every day. Other values: respect, helping one another, sharing, hard work. Sadly these values are now always shared even in one society. How can we expect to find them in school?

The question must be raised for schools, like other organizations, can have mission and vision statements. Here is an example of mission statement: “To provide first rate teaching in all academic fields and to contribute to the growth of students, the institution and society.” Here is a good vision: “To become an international reference in terms of teaching, education and social integration.”

Why bother with these concepts? What’s the point of having missions, visions and values? They simply focus the evolution of an organization and all its stakeholders. They act as the fundamental motor force of all actions made by involved parties. In this way it can also protect them. If a decision goes against these fundamental principles it can be disputed, challenged. If the union defends an obviously incompetent teacher without care for the negative impacts of this action on the integrity of our education network, than such an action is intolerable. If management tries to hire a team based on cronyism rather than objective principles, such an action is equally intolerable.

This is why values are so important: they alone can dictate the mission and vision of an organization; otherwise it will appear to us as a senseless monster.

While I only used our school system as an example, the same principles could carry over to all government level. Private companies already do it in many cases. Why not make them mandatory and adopt a few legal tools to strengthen them even more?


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