What happens is what's important
Some years ago, one of my beloved tutors introduced these Clarke’s (2003:40ff.) assertions to us. I thought I could share it with you:
- To change society, you have to change institutions.
- To change institutions, individuals have to change.
- I am the individual who has to change. The only individual over whom I have any control is myself (and even that control is limited). I can only change things over which I have control.
- I can’t change myself without affecting others. And, because I cannot change others unilaterally, I will need to engage them in some principled interactions. This may precipitate crises of various magnitude, as I discover where people stand and the (relative) importance to me of my change efforts versus the good opinion of my friends and colleagues.
- I cannot predict the course of change, so I will need to adopt a flexible approach to my efforts: Ready, fire, aim! Some planning is necessary, but usually setting some preliminary goals and jumping in is the approach most likely to produce results.
- I cannot change any important aspect of my life without changing all other aspects of my life.
- I must come to grips with the real forces of my life (no lies). I will need to learn to see more clearly, to pay attention to what is going on, and to describe things as they are. What I see happening over time reveals what really matters. What gets done is important, and things are the way they are not by accident.
- I cannot change other people (only individuals can change themselves). However, in some cases, I can change the conditions within which others work and interact, and in these cases I can increase the probability of some changes occurring rather than others.
- I need to have a vision of how things will look when they have improved. What will I see happening when things are better? I need to focus on how far I have come, in addition to how far I have to go.
- I must pay attention to what is happening while it is happening. I can’t change yesterday and tomorrow isn’t here yet.
- Patience! I must trust process as well as people.
- Pain! It is rare for important change to occur without conflict and pain.
- Learning is change over time through engagement in activity. Human beings cannot not learn.
15. The most powerful learning is that which occurs apperceptively, at the edges of consciousness.
Are there any of them which chime in with you or something you don’t agree with and would like to respond?
Clarke, M. 2003. A Place to Stand: Essays for Educators in Troubled Times. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.