Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hedgehogs and the 4th circle

In our Leadership PLC we are moving on to discuss the hedgehog concept.  This comes from Jim Collins' book Good to Great where he writes about a hedgehog knowing one big thing, in contrast to a fox that knows many things and pursues many ends at the same time in a scattered or diffused way without a unifying vision.  Hedgehogs live in more simple worlds based on a single idea or principal - they see what is essential and ignore the rest.  And of course, the hedgehog always wins.

Jim Collins writes about the hedgehog concept flowing from a deep understanding of 3 circles:

  • What you can be best in the world at
  • What drives your economic engine
  • What you are passionate about
He writes that you need all 3 circles to be great.  Although I missed the last Leadership PLC meeting the question that was asked was this:  to consider our responses to the 3 circles and then to add a 4th circle in:  what the world needs.

These are all huge questions.  Best in the world - so hard to say.  There are lots of things I'm good at, for example I think in my previous schools I have been good at helping all teachers, no matter what their level of expertise, to move forward and integrate technology in an authentic way to improve student learning, but I would never claim to be best in the world (though I've often claimed that I'm working at the best school in the world!)  Money - another hard question.  I guess I simply need enough to get by and support my family.  Nobody ever goes into teaching for the money or to get rich, though international education does mostly give a very comfortable life because of the benefits packages, and for me the thing that is absolutely priceless is that I've been able to give my own children an international education in the schools where I have worked.  Teaching couples do better of course, but often it has been hard to support a family of 4 on one steady income - so something more than money keeps me in the job which can only be what I'm passionate about.

Because I truly believe that all children can learn, I think what I have is a vision of education that is individualized and tailored to each child, and so I believe that it's important that we value the way each child learns and the diverse ways that they want to express their learning.  To me education is the key to a better, more enriched life.  My brother and I were the first people ever in the entire history of our family to be educated beyond secondary school - this education has given us opportunities, choices and opened doors for us that our parents and grandparents never had.  I have been passionate about passing these opportunities on to my own children and to the children I have taught.  I'm passionate about the way that education can make a difference, and, according to our school's mission statement, that it can allow us to pursue our dreams.

What the world needs.  Empathy, tolerance, understanding, compassion.  For sure, an education that develops these values, that promotes international mindedness, is what the world needs.

This diagram isn't the 4 intersecting circles that it should have been, but hopefully it's clear enough!  I'd love to hear from more teachers:  what are you passionate about, what are you best at, what drives you economically and what do you think the world needs?

Photo Credit: Adam Foster | Codefor via Compfight cc

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