I am a giver. I just finished reading Give and Take by Adam Grant after learning about it through a Lifehacker.com article in their ongoing “I’m ________ and this is how I work” series where Mark Arnodly, CEO of Possible was the subject.
Mark recommended the book Give and Take by Adam Grant stating that it was the most influential book he had read in the last year. I went over to Amazon and in a few seconds it was sitting on my iPhone.
The book summarizes three different types of people givers, takers and marchers along with how they operate. It was a great find at the time given several situations I am currently working through. Givers by nature always look for ways to add value to others but run the risk of of ending up on the bottom of the success ladder.
It was through the book that I quickly started assigning labels to those around me both in my personal and professional lives. In observing the people around me I realized that the majority were givers and the majority of them were in the education field. It was those few people I identified as takers that stood out to me. They stood out to me because they were also in the education field.
Takers are in my opinion the hardest to work with or for in a situation where you are primarily a giver. They demand so much from you and will use you as a resource until you have no value to their ultimate end goal. They contribute nothing back to the group providing no value. They also tend to suck the life out of a giver and drive them to a point where they are ready to leave.
While reading the book, I observed multiple instances of where the people I had identified as takers did exactly the actions I had described above. This frustratedly because I view education as a field that is truly made for and ran by givers. How did these two people make it to the positions they have in education?
While education is a field populated heavily with givers it is a field that is regulated by professions that I would view as a marcher or taker. Education is regulated by politicians. Politicians who often come from business or a law background where results drive the outcome. These two people have garnered results in their respective fields and in turn are viewed highly by the regulators who control the laws that govern the education field.
Does this mean that they are bad people or does it mean that they have mastered the game? I would classify them as the latter of the two. Did they start out as givers? I don’t know. What I do know is that I strongly disagree with the way they conduct business presently.
Education is a rough field and one that requires advanced degrees with compensatation that is no where adequate for the degrees. We have created an environment where education is now a competition to see who can get the highest PI score, graduation rate, college acceptance rate or some other metric. It frustrates me that we have people in education who are not willing to share their work or best practices because it would give their “competition” assistance. We are in education to help students learn and succeed…why are we operating it like a business?
In this pursuit of performing well on the test we have lost focus on what really matters in education. The children and the families are what really matter in education. If as an educator I can help a student connect learning to a real life situation then I consider that a success. If I can help a family with a challenge they are facing then I consider that a success. If I can guide a student to a breakthrough on a challenge then I consider that a success. Did you notice that none of the things I would consider a success have to do with reaching a PI score of 120 or scoring accelerated or advanced on a test. When you focus only on the test are you focusing on what is best for that student or focusing instead on what is best in the eyes of the state?
The people I have described in this post frustrate me. The frustrate me because they demand hard work, perfection and dedication but they don’t give any thing of value back to the cause without a price. They may do a presentation here or there but in reality they are doing it in hopes of gaining a favor or an award. How about we do it for the betterment of education and helping all students succeed without expecting something in return.