Whirlwind of a week, again. The temptation is not to write, but in such a busy period, finding some time to reflect is actually really important.

Leadership and management

So, I’ve started a new online module for my middle leadership cause. The first task was to read an opinion piece about the relationship between leadership and management. I won’t recount the article, but my over simplistic summary would be that leadership is about vision and values whereas management is about processes and systems. Like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other, but they aren’t one and the same!

Reflecting on my own role, especially at this busy time, it seemed to me that much of my time as a middle leader is directed, from ‘above’, to management tasks, whereas the things I would like to try and spend more time on and would probably enjoy more are squeezed out of my day. Based on my own observations since becoming a teacher, I think that middle leaders – be they curriculum or pastoral – are the most pressured for time – they still have a substantial classroom teaching commitment and yet have ever-increasing responsibilities to improve their part of the school. On the one hand, it is good that more decisions are devolved to middle leaders who are closer to the heat of the classroom coalface, but on the other hand, the job can sometimes seem unsustainable on a physical, intellectual or emotional level. How colleagues with children (at any level in school) cope, I do not fully comprehend, though again, from my observations, it seems by putting their own wellbeing at risk in order to be their for their job and their families. That is definitely not sustainable.

Should we be bothered by eight billionaires?

Oxfam have released their latest shock stats to coincide with the World Economic Forum at Davos. Newly available statistics paint, according to Oxfam at least, an even starker picture than previously, with just eight men in the world owning the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the global population. There are plenty of people who are shocked by such a factoid, many more who are oblivious and there there are some who try to defend that situation.

Some people accuse Oxfam of focusing on the wrong issue in drawing attention to the super-rich. Instead they say that we should focus on the welfare of the poor, which is getting better. These are the same corporate apologists who see no problem between CEOs paying themselves multi-million bonuses whilst complaining about the National Living Wage. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that inequality between people is not healthy for society or the economy. I accept, whilst I’m sure that some wouldn’t, that a degree of inequality is good to incentivise people to work hard and innovate, ultimately for the betterment of society. If that inequality becomes too great though, the gaps between opportunities between different groups demotivates people. Furthermore, the wealthy pass on their wealth and so the gaps within society, which make social mobility practically impossible, are passed from generation to generation in a form capital-driven net-aristocracy which becomes as unmerited as ancient aristocracies based on some divine rite.

Resolve in tact

Two weeks in and my resolutions are largely in tact: no buying books – tick, no carbonated pop in the house – tick, no takeaways – tick. I have blagged a free book via Twitter and did have a Greggs sausage roll when I was hungry, but otherwise I am feeling pretty good. On top of that I’ve managed to get out cycling on three consecutive Saturdays. I have to go back over a year since the last time I managed that. I am even polishing off cereal bars as a form of breakfast too, to avoid snacking on unhealthy alternatives.

All of this new habit forming is making me quite giddy, next on the agenda is to try and eek out some time for the gym during the week and to try and get more sleep. You’ll notice my other resolutions are not time related (apart from the increased cooking required to avoid takeaways).

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