Monthly Archives: October 2012
My son brought to my attention a more than century-old “paean to perseverance” written by publisher Elbert Hubbard. His story “A Message to Garcia” depicts the dilemma of President William McKinley, our 25th President in 1899 during America’s war with Spain. The President needed to deliver an urgent message to General Calixto Garcia, the leader of the insurgents, in order to secure his cooperation. But Garcia was lost somewhere deep inside the mountain vastness of Cuba.
“There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia if anyone can,” someone told the president. So McKinley summoned Colonel Andrew Rowan. Rowan took McKinley’s letter, “sealed it in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia.”
The message was about the need, sometimes, to just “jump,” rather than ask “how high” when we’re required to take immediate and effective action. What do you think about this from the standpoint of school transportation? When are you asked to act rather than analyze? How do you hire staff members who are like Colonel Rowan? Would you want an operation with only Colonel Rowan’s?
I’m especially interested because I’m so aware of the difficulty I have in finding a balance between analysis to paralysis and impulsivity. I read “A Message to Garcia” several weeks ago, and have thought about it often since then.
When Bill Clinton was running for president he famously wrote “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!” on the grease board in his campaign office. As I sit here between sessions at NASDPTS and NAPT I find myself thinking about which sessions that I’ve presented or attended really resonated. The answer in almost every single case involves serving students.
We entered this profession for a variety of reasons, but for most of us, we stay in the profession because we enjoy making a difference in the lives of kids. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that when we’re dealing with an angry customer or a personnel issue. We need to frequently remind ourselves “IT’S THE KIDS, STUPID!”
I once had a boss tell me “You’re not going to tell me about that because if you did I’d have to do something.” It really bothered me at the time because I wanted to discuss something we were doing that was just wrong for kids.
As I read the following headline I couldn’t help thinking about this mindless bureaucrat (who was fired the next year.)
Aurora shooting suspect’s psychiatrist alerted colleagues of threat, but officials never contacted police
Things never “came together” because James Holmes, the shooter, had begun the process of dropping out of school. A few University of Colorado officials took the easy way out. After all, they probably reasoned, this isn’t going to be our problem soon.
When you’re tempted to suspend your integrity let this awful calamity remind you that plausible deniability just isn’t good enough. Maybe then there will be something positive, no matter how small, to be taken from this senseless tragedy.
Don’t be afraid of your own ignorance or insecurity. Now that I’m a new resident of KC MO, I’m remembering how great it is to be new, and, therefore, unaware of such things as directions, where to get things, etc. I use my “newness” as a way to ask others what I don’t yet know (such as directions). It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly new at something, and it reminds me how useful it is. For one thing, there’s may be a kind of immunity from offending someone when you preface a question with “I’m sorry I’m new here, so I’d love to know the backstory to your feelings.” It sure beats saying “Where are you coming from?” I’m tempted to “fib” and be a “new” resident for a very long time.
Along those lines, I’ve never had much fear of not knowing in my professional life either, and I recommend it. Transportation supervisors need to buy time to be smart. Don’t be afraid to say to parents, staff etc.: “I will get back to you. Don’t make any changes until you hear from me. If you don’t hear from me in [what period of time] please ask me again.”
On our new blog we’ll be sharing our opinions on a wide array of events, concepts, and ideas. Almost all of our posts will be shorter and less formal than our usual presentations or articles. However, while we won’t be as wordy, we will be more prolific. Our commitment to you (and to each other) is that, regardless of how busy we are, we’ll make time to post at least once per week.
Neither Peggy nor Pete are naive or egotistical enough to assume our random thoughts would be of much interest to many of you. So it is with more than a little trepidation that we embark on this new venture. We like to think of ourselves as thoughtful, but we also know that the line between “thoughtful” and “thoughtless” can be very thin. This is where you come in. Please let us know if any of our “detours” lead you to a dead end. We also want to hear your positive and creative comments on our postings. If something we say strikes a nerve – good. If it inspires you – even better.