Our personal and professional hopes for shaping our future and the futures of our students is at the center of education. As Dr. John A. Stoops, the founder of the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools reminds us “everything that looks to the future elevates human nature.” A reminder of the words of the German poet, Ranier Rilke that “the future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.” And the same can be said of our students and our schools.
As individuals and as educators we share many desired futures such as peace, love, life, justice and self-realization. Education is the means we use to awaken these personal desires in our students, striving for the common good and reaching consensus on a preferred future.
The efficiency of a learning community in encouraging the best from every member of the community, by generating ownership, commitment, consensus can be enhanced by an accreditation process that results in realistic actions leading to the attainment of the preferred future and the benefit of the entire school community.
But why is this so important?
While a desired future is expressed in every schools’ mission, bringing about and enjoying the realities which we desire and believe in is the real challenge. Having worked in and with faith-based schools for thirty years I have learned the importance of the mission to a school’s success and the challenges they face in fulfilling it. The challenge is using the mission as the guiding principle for the day to day operations of the school. For faith based schools this included recognizing our dignity as the sons and daughters of one Father, the implications of our faith for our lives and the lives of others.
Many modern day prophets like Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and most recently Pope Francis have shared with us the desired future inside themselves. They consistently worked towards it and fervently believe that it will be a reality. Every educator needs to demonstrate that level of commitment to themselves and the schools they serve so that the schools’ desired future can also become a reality.
For many schools that I am working with the Middle States accreditation process closes the gap between creating the mission, navigating current realities, and progressing towards attaining a desired future. It is a means to ensuring that the future we desire will become a reality for our schools and our students “long before it happens”.