Friday, November 24, 2006

Core Values

Fascinating guided tour of the Sandviken exhibition centre this afternoon. We were shown how Sandviken, the company, is a global business with factories and employees all over the world. Their business is steel and their products are used in every conceivable type of manufacturing, as well as in heavy-duty operations such as drilling and mining. The company's businessplan - as explained to us by Per-Hendrik Bergek, husband of Inga-Märit Bergek who spoke to us yesterday at the Vitalen IT Centre - is an interesting one. If they can't be either #1 or #2 in their field they get out. Hence, for example, they sold Sandviken tools about 6 years ago because they were only #5 in that market. Not an option for schools of course, but the business's three core values
Open Mind
Fair Play
Team Spirit
can certainly be applied to education generally, and many of them have been in good evidence all through this week.
The key features of an Open Mind as set out in the exhibition's audiovisual display - positive attitude to change; encouragement of new ideas; constantly renewing oursrlves - have been well exemplified by the Vitalen team and by large numbers working in the schools. It's interesting that there is acknowledgement that there are still some closed minds out there in schools, just as there are in all countries, but the attitude here seems to be that it is better to expend energy on the receptive rather than attempt to force the reluctant.
Perhaps sometimes in other countries either the pressures of a testing/assessment/inspection culture or the obligation to Fair Play [the second Sandviken business principle] encourages ICT leaders to expend too great a portion of their energies on closed minds [see earlier reference to common complaint of IT advisers].
Team Spirit is an obvious must-have and as remarked yesterday the Vitalen team has this in abundance. They act together as a team; they trust one another; they have a close relationship with teachers in schools [and as Honke indicated in his address this morning the relationship is one that exists irrespective of a headteacher's attitudes]; and there is indedstrong, but distributed, leadership.
The headteacher of the school we visited this morning said something we don't hear often enough at home. When asked how long the teachers spent in school he said that there was a set number of hours but he didn't check up. 'I've never got a good idea sitting at a desk,' he said. 'I get my ideas while i'm out walking or doing something practical. Teaching is an art - you have to give people space to get new ideas.'

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