It’s an interesting one this. In my line of work, I believe that healthy discourse can be both productive and progressive. It challenges a status quo for status quo’s sake, it allows stakeholders to have a say and be heard. I run a consultative management team. All good things, I think.
Apparently, HM the Queen learned this maxim - ‘Never complain, never explain
’ - from her mother
, the late Queen Mum. And as the Huffpost writer and blogger Hugh Salmon
states, there is a lesson here for all who lead:
“If you are in a position of leadership, perhaps you should say less than you do. You do not have to justify your every decision. You should not speak ill of anyone you work with. You need not criticise any of your customers or suppliers. You have no need to impress. Or preach.
Just get on with your job, set yourself the highest professional and personal standards, stand by them for the whole of your life and, while doing so, keep your mouth shut - and, certainly, never speak or write ill of any other person.”
Pretty powerful polemic, I think. But I don’t want to explain too much …
What is important to me as the head of a school is always to try my very best to keep in mind the very best interests of the children in my care. In doing so I, and my colleagues, do invite parents to express concerns; we have open channels of communications and we have a parents’ forum, like most schools, where parents and guardians can bring to our attention their misgivings, anonymously.
There are problems when we do invite criticism, though, as highlighted all too sharply by the emergence of the latest social media rating website at the end of the Easter holiday. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s another one of those invidious, odious inventions online that encourages spite and malice and inappropriate online behaviour. I’m going to avoid naming it here, as that would be to promote it, but it was mentioned in the school newsletters on Friday if parents want to check for children’s usage.
I must admit that I don’t ‘get’ the instagram generation’s need for ‘comments’ and ‘rates’ on their ‘recents’, but then I’m not a fifteen year old girl. Although I don’t understand it, I understand all too well that it is a problem. This problem is made all the worse when online commentators are allowed to ‘troll’, ie. to post anonymously. Which leads me to wonder if we should actually be encouraging parents to submit complaints to the school forum anonymously? Wouldn’t it be a better model to continue to suggest that parents should feel comfortable bringing concerns and complaints to the relevant member of the school community, be it a Head of Department, Head of Year, Head of Boarding, a Deputy or Head of School? Why is there a need to hide behind anonymity?
Maybe there should be further tweaking of a format here, worked through by all parties.
Maybe, too, we should be working harder to discourage our children from feeling the need to parade a perfect ‘Instagrammable’ life on their social media profiles, emulating as they do, the celebrities whose publicists are paid a great deal to manage their image and fake their perfection.