Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Being Happy in the Mess

A phrase we've used a lot this year as we plan and build a new school.

The physical mess is on the building site where some might say the real building is happening.
However one of my colleagues always talk about the fact that we are doing the real building- the stuff that makes your head hurt sometimes. This is the real mess. And it's the stuff we can't just make decisions about and move on. 

We need to inquire and think, and reflect, and percolate. We need to discuss and have dialogue and reflect some more.  We don't want to 'throw the baby out with the bath water,' but we also don't want to do what's always been done- especially if we can't identify a relevant reason for doing so in today's world.  The challenge of learning, unlearning and relearning, of designing, while at the same time doing the necessary as well, creates some of the mess.

As we start preparing for staff to begin with us next term the question becomes instead how ready are we to support them in finding their way through the mess? How much support and organisation and direction do we give them so they don't completely flounder? But how can we also give them time to get in the mess and wallow in it for a while?

None of us wants to be seen as disorganised, but I'm sure we will be seen as that at times. Not because we don't want to be organised but because sometimes building the plane while flying it, is the way we will create real magic. If it could all be tidied into neat little boxes we would do that but building a new school with new foci, and new ways of doing things is complex and profound. We've had the privilege of time to wallow and kick around in the mess. How do we give staff some time to do this but also meet their needs for some of the traditional organisation and direction they will be expecting?

Some of us are off to a seminar tomorrow titled Thriving in Complexity. That's what we want ourselves and our entire staff to be empowered to do- next term as we get to know each other and discover some new ways of working together, and next year when we start working with ākonga. We want to stay in the mess, we acknowledge that what we are doing and what we want to achieve is complex. And we want to thrive in that complexity.