The question of collegial leadership
We had a board/faculty meeting this week, a regular event to build good relationships between the two groups. One activity we did (highly recommended) was to split into threes (one board and two teachers) and explore one of the core principles of Waldorf education developed by the Pedagogical Section Council.
Our group chose #7 Spiritual Orientation. In our conversation we came to the sentence talking about the development of a spiritual organ in the faculty.
My experience with this is that the ability to develop a healthy spiritual organ in the faculty is founded on three things: the ability of each individual to practice his/her inner work and alignment with the light of anthroposophy; the ability of each individual to be successful at putting the results of his/her inner work into action in teaching; and the ability of the group to work together in meditative and social ways in developing a healthy working with spirit. Without these three the formation of a true organ of perception for spirit is not possible.
So what do schools do when the faculty is not experienced enough or trained enough or socially adept enough to create such an organ, our insightful board colleague asked? I described to him the practice schools have of forming a smaller group of dedicated, experienced, pedagogically successful, social and inwardly active teachers that can bring insight, hold the place of spiritual connection and provide a deeper foundation for the school.
His first question was: Wouldn’t that automatically create a stratum in the faculty and a set of consequent problems? We pondered this question for a while and realized that this is the basic social question that we all as individuals are faced – that when two people meet, one has more capacity than the other to consciously connect with spiritual insight and, to create a harmonious working with the other, must exercise true collaborative leadership in a way that the equality between them and the freedom of each is nourished. Otherwise, without the social capacity, the one with more capacity easily is perceived as arrogant or condescending.
This is the same dynamic that we have been challenged with in the movement for a long time – that the college of teachers has a difficult time exercising leadership in such a way that they work in harmony with the entire faculty. What is needed is for college groups to understand that their capacity for collaborative leadership is essential to their success alongside their capacity to be a spiritual organ.