Results For Health
Please Login to see 8 Best Practices Results
- U.S. Coast Guard Officer Programs - LT Stephen Macomber
- Substance Abuse - Dr. Amelia Arria
- Military Medicine Initiatives - William H Pieratt
- Cadet Command Update - U.S. Army
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats - Colonel Ray Rottman, USAF, Ret. (AMCSUS)
- Relationship between Commandant and Dean - Brigadier General Richard Geraci, USA, Ret (MMA)
- Transitioning to College - Victor Schwartz MD
- Resilience, Wellness and GRIT in Virginia Tech Students - Ana Agud
- US Coast Guard Office Programs - Lieutenant Macomber and Chief Arambula
- Resilience on Campus - Dr. Nance Roy
- Interviews - Billingsley (FUMA) & Smith (NMMI)
- US Army Resilience Program - Colonel Gregory Stokes
- JED Campus - Dr. Nance Roy
- AFROTC Update - Colonel Steve Biggs
- Advisory Program - LTC Sarah Jones, PsyD. (VMI)
- Crisis Response Process - Dr Constance Richards (Randolph-Macon)
- Turnarounds and Chaos - Col Jim Benson, USMC, Ret. (Riverside)
- School Safety for a Secure Future - Dr. Erroll G. Southers
- Keynote: Mission Guidance - John Buxton (Culver)
- Building Global Leaders of Character and Action - Tony McGeorge and Lisa Metzger-Mugg
Do Not Lose Your Head: The Importance of Healthy Governance in Military Schools - Jack H. Albert, Jr. D.Min.
St John's Northwesten Military Academy
Leading a school is much like learning to dance. Learning to dance without instructions or a teacher would be limiting, because there is no opportunity to practice the role without professional feedback. When one learns to dance, there is typically an instructor, together with practice and rehearsals. In a school community, however, the leader, or head in this case, often finds himself smack in the middle of a crowded dance floor. On the floor, there are students with needs and demands. Nearby there might be parents seeking answers and offering particularly helpful and timely suggestions. Of course, there will always be faculty and alumni. Each group arrives on the floor with its own special needs and desires. As if the floor were not crowded enough, the Board of Trustees and friends of the school show up for good measure.
Yes, the dance floor of a school head can become very crowded; jam-packed to the extent of adding confusion to an already difficult task. This is when a school head would do well to step back and reflect on what is happening to him, or her. It is here that the head might discuss with the Board an opportunity for a sabbatical, or possibly a period of respite at retreat with other heads. It might be as simple as taking time with a coach or mentor to reflect on best ways to deal with school situations. Providing time off the dance floor is also one of the responsibilities of the Board's Executive or Governance Committee and should be part of the discussion in the annual review of the head by one or both of them.
And this is what Heifetz and Linsky refer to as taking a balcony perspective, suggesting that one come off the dance floor and "go to the balcony . . ."
It is from the balcony perspective that I have reflected on what can happen to good leaders who assume the mantle of head of school. From this level I have learned to better appreciate and understand the role of head of school and the demands of service that are placed on leaders. These observations 'from the balcony' have confirmed my conviction that those called to the vocation of head of school are a unique priestly lot.
For years men and women have held leadership positions in independent schools. These ministers of trust have faithfully practiced their craft of developing the skills of boys and girls, thus giving testimony to Erasmus's notion that "the best hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth."
Given the complexities of our time and the nuances of our school cultures, holding true to the testimony of Erasmus's thought is not always easy; more often, it is fraught with stress and disappointment.
This nuance is nowhere better explained than in Leonard Baird's classic work The Elite Schools: A Profile of Prestigious Independent Schools, in which he wrote, "the administrator of an independent school whether in the role of the headmaster or teacher-administrator is in a difficult and complex task. An administrator particularly must satisfy many groups." In his equally significant work, American Non Public Schools: Patterns of Diversity, Otto F. Kraushaar amplifies this thought when he quotes educator and philosopher Robert Hutchins: "he [the headmaster] deals with at least six constituencies: the faculty, the trustees, students, parents, alumni, and the public, each of whom could claim much of his time. And there is the hazard... that he will spend enough time with each of the six to irritate the other five." In other words, headship is not for the faint of heart.
The seed of this article germinates from the stresses and disappointments of independent military school leaders and their relationships with others to include the board chair and members of the board. Governance is thus a serious matter in all our schools. Ineffective governance can often cause a school to literally lose its head.
Heads of independent military schools leave or consider leaving for many reasons. One primary cause is failed or failing relationships between them and their board members or the chairperson of the board. These relationship failures not only fuel the turnover of heads in these schools, but also foster an ethos of dissonant leadership in these schools. This dissonance places school leaders out of sync with members of their staff and faculty, as well as with students and other school families. Further, such dissonance creates disharmony and dysfunction in schools, often breeding distrust between leaders and resulting in the failure of the efforts made for our children.
The behavior known as dissonance can be prevented. It is known that coherent, healthy schools abound when school leaders take a mature and wise approach to the learning found in leadership concepts, such as those in the rubric of emotional intelligence and its competencies. These practiced competencies test and encourage the intentional-change efforts of leaders who hold firm to the belief that leadership is a learned capability. The practice of this learned capability hones the skill-improvement that is critical in the development of resonant leadership.
Most leaders in independent military schools are certainly responding to a call on their lives. They attend to the need(s) of others yet are often not attended to; maybe for years. Such a disconnect emboldens one to suggest that people in this barren place need a set of skills to ply their trade in a more effective and intelligent way. Consequently, this might be called simply leadership learning as a means of addressing some of the more important issues that are fermenting in the cauldron of school governance relationships. Healing these relationships is mission critical for the success and health of a school. Such healing can be accomplished by a wise person (a skilled consultant; a causal agent) who intervenes with a set of skills or competencies employing, for example the concept of emotional intelligence.
This model to heal suffering and dissonance succeeds in large measure by having an established process and procedure enhanced by an appraisal that seeks to refine each level of improvement worked on. Again, the practice of this work is underpinned by the attributes of emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman and its skill competencies, enhanced by a person's intent to change behaviors.
As stated earlier, this process is best executed by one who wisely guides those leaders intent on change through a series of practical experiences which will be fashioned by their own learning styles and beliefs. The leaders should be encouraged to persevere in these experiences, with broad latitude allowed for failing and succeeding alike. This testing in the safe presence of the wise counselor is recommended in order to nurture growth and resonance.
This model informs a process. The process is a journey. It is not a formula or a technique, or another how-to book or seminar (even though the journey may begin as the result of a meeting or seminar, or as the result of reading a book). The wise person leading this effort must be a practitioner of the process in order to best assist those in need. There are many ways in which this process can be delivered to schools and their leaders.
First, school leaders can set up a visit from or to a successful military school leader or other military school or its board to facilitate a discussion on the relationship between members of boards and heads. A series of case studies could be used as a starting point from which to explore mutually beneficial solutions to a school issue or issues under discussion.
A second approach addresses every school's concern with budgets and the costs of professional development. Because recourse to consultants is often an expensive undertaking, a not-for-profit consulting consortium could be offered as one cost-efficient alternative. One way may be to seek reduced service rates from existing consultants or university professors who will often provide work gratis.
One very practical way to introduce this work is for the head of school to create the process as a means of professional development for the faculty and staff of his or her school. After seeking the board's endorsement, the school could make this endeavor a three-year strategic effort with significant work but little expense. This way there would be reporting exposure to the board of trustees, and meaningful work would be provided by the professional staff of the school. Everyone has the potential to benefit. Again, however, this places the person delivering these efforts in a vulnerable position, because we all know creative ideas are usually open to criticism and rejection. This is simply a risk one must take in the arena of leadership.
Finally, this effort is not the only way to insure resonant leadership in our schools, but it is a way, it works, and it is needed.
You're In Charge... Now What?! - Maj Gen Randal Fullhart
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
When leadership fails to understand the root cause(s) of a problem, they often waste critical time, energy, and resources addressing only the symptoms.
This chapter is written from a new Head of School's perspective...though it could certainly be used by the leader of any component area of a school's operation: enrollment, academics, athletics, facilities, etc.
The underlying theory here is called the Theory of Constraints. It is a theory coined by the late Eliyahu Goldratt who wrote the best-selling book, The Goal, which illustrates the five thinking processes of the theory. The setting for the book is a manufacturing plant that is struggling to produce both the quantity and quality of product, at a price that is sustainable and that provides for a profit. The head of the plant is confronted with the reality that if things don't improve, the plant will be closed. He must figure out what is wrong and turn it around...quickly...without the benefit of additional personnel, facilities, equipment, or money. In other words, he must fix things with what he has available while continuing to operate the plant.
Sound interesting? Sound familiar? Instead of parts going through the plant and coming out the other end as a finished product think of students coming to our programs, progressing through our system, and emerging after graduation as successful scholars that are disciplined and honorable people ready to go to the next level.
Needless to say... I encourage you to read the book, The Goal. In the meantime, permit me to prime the pump.
If you are coming in as a new Head of School, then you are doing so along the line of a spectrum that begins where the previous head was fired, left, or retired. The school is somewhere on the spectrum of struggling, maintaining, or thriving.
You'll also face some realities regardless of where you are at on those spectrum. Whatever it costs to operate today, will cost more in the future. Even if you have the perfect team, people will leave for other jobs, or retire. Worse case, you don't have the perfect team and you'll need to be able to compete for high quality replacements. Your facilities will not get younger...meaning repairs and renovations will increase, nor will they likely grow significantly in capacity without expansion. The demographics and population of your potential students are going to change over time. Your sources for funding will continue to come from two major areas: Tuition & Fees and Endowments & Donations. Your competition will range from "free" public education, to private schools, to private boarding schools, to private, military boarding schools.
The Theory of Constraints is based on physics in that there is a cause and effect relationship between all things. Some of the things that affect the success of your school are within your direct control, some you influence, and some are outside of your control. Your focus should be on the first two areas.
Given this, the diagram that follows this article represents a rudimentary suggestion of how this might be applied to a school. (Note: take the two sheets and align them left to right.) This is called a Future Reality Tree and is read in the form of "If...Then"...from left to right...from box to box. Some things require more than cause to be in place to create an effect. That's what the circle with the "and" means.
You'll see that it begins with the makeup and inclination of the Board to support the institution's mission, the ability to provide for resources, and the selection and support to the Head of School. You may infer from this that if this is not present, the rest of the endeavor will be very hampered if not doomed to fail.
From there it flows into major components of the program to include admissions, academics, athletics, facilities, etc. For purposes of this article I've limited the complexity somewhat in order to illustrate the point.
At the far right, it illustrates the desired outcome of our programs and suggests that this can lead to increased resources and increased demand for the school enrollment. In short...a virtuous circle.
What's the benefit of such a diagram for your organization?
It gives you a place to start to analyze the health and well-being of what exists, and what is going to be necessary to move things forward. It is important to note that if you don't know what causes a situation to exist, you will be tempted to work on the symptom and not the problem.
As an example, if you go about repainting the dorm without realizing that the underlying cause of it looking dilapidated is that you don't have the financial support from your board, you will may get a freshly painted dorm in the near-term but it is only a matter of time before the problem surfaces elsewhere.
Is this diagram perfect as it currently stands? Is it a perfect reflection of your situation? The answer to both questions is, "No." As military experts will tell you it is not the "plan" that is important, it is the "planning."
My hope is that this will be encouragement to develop the diagram that reflects your desired outcome. What it takes to create the reality that you wish to achieve. In so doing you will discover the underlying relationships and prerequisites for achieving success in all aspects of your organization.
And here is the most important part...
Once you have that understanding, conduct a clear-eyed assessment of where your organization stands (in each element of the diagram) and trace they symptom(s) back to the problem that is causing the symptom(s) in the first place. That's where you need to put the bulk of your time and effort. And once you get things the way they should be...don't rest on your laurels because external realities and the march of time will soon be along to drive the need to address the cause that is now limiting your organization's success.
Governance - John Buxton
As a member of a regional accrediting organization I have had the privilege of leading accreditation teams as part of the seven year evaluation and accreditation process. Since I was a head of school, I was usually assigned the task of writing the reports on School Culture, Mission and Philosophy, and Governance. I was reviewing a few of the Governance reports I had written in preparation for writing this chapter, and I took from those pages three special commendations that every school would be pleased to receive in their reports. This seems the perfect place to begin our discussion.
They read as follows: We commend the School for its:
Knowledge of and commitment to Mission and philosophy;
"One employee" (the Head of School) approach to governing but not managing the operations of the School;
Support of the Strategic Initiative in Technology
Decision to author and embrace the School's Diversity Plan.
After reading what follows, you should have a better idea than you do now why these Commendations reflect best practices in Governance and what we would hope for when the accreditation process comes to our schools.
The concept of good governance seems so clear to those about to practice it and to those who merely write about it. On the contrary, it actually can be the most difficult and most challenging aspect of the organization's management cycle. Governance seems almost self-explanatory: it refers to the policies and practices and the philosophy of caring for and supporting an organization or activity. Governance describes the roles and responsibilities those endowed with the duty of care for the entity have as caretakers or stewards.
In today's world, one only needs to Google the word to get hundreds of tips and reminders, TED Talks, and "Top Tens" about the practices of good governance-in both corporate and non-profit settings. Terms like Mission, Trusteeship, Fiduciary, and Legality create the roadmap for the principles of good Governance. But as Oscar Wilde reminded us, "A pure and simple Truth...is rarely pure...and never simple." Governance may be the most important and most nuanced aspect of the leadership and management of a complex organization-like our Academies and Schools.
So let's start at the beginning. If the ideal model for education is a professor and a student each sitting on one end of the same log, engaging in rational discourse; then the ideal governance model is two or more minds with different perspectives sharing one thought...over and over again-- the only exception being when they agree to reconsider the other person's perspective if and when they disagree.
I once worked for (not with, but for) a head of school who demanded from his leadership team and all faculty what he called "critical loyalty." His concept of critical loyalty was simple in concept but deeply flawed in reality. He wanted, actually, he demanded, that those working for him swear their loyalty to him and his modus operandi, but that they do so in the context of honest assessment; whether that assessment was supportive or critical. He advertised an openness of mind and assured us he was eager to have rigorous but respectful debate.
What he actually wanted was uncritical loyalty, blind loyalty; and he was clear that our loyalty was not to an ideal or to an institution; rather he demanded uncritical loyalty to him, regardless of the absence of ethics or thoughtfulness in his actions. He and I did not work together long.
Now, I believe the concept of critical loyalty is foundational to good governance, but I cannot countenance blind or unwarranted loyalty. Any text on the principles of good governance will put some focus on the duty of loyalty as one of the pillars upon which good governance is built. This duty requires responsible fiduciaries to make decisions for the organization they serve that are in the best interest of the institution, and never to make decisions that serve only their needs.
The duty of loyalty partners with two other well-known duties: the duty of care and the duty of obedience-these three make up the triumvirate of governance responsibilities. The duty of care relates to "the prudent use of the organization's assets to advance its sustainability and effectiveness"; and the duty of obedience speaks to a Trustee's "duty to obey the applicable laws that govern non-profits."
Furthermore, the essence of the concept of trusteeship is based on the concepts of trust and care for the institution. Historically, trustees were chosen to serve as the responsible stewards of an organization, as the experienced elders who would provide their time, their talents, and ,yes, even their treasure to ensure that the mission of the School would be carried out and that the School would succeed and endure. This relationship was built with the primary understanding that the essence of responsible trusteeship was based on their critical loyalty to the School, not the School's uncritical loyal to them.
These trustees visited the School periodically to take the temperature of the campus, to discuss any financial or physical needs it might have, and to ensure that the School's Mission was being lived out in the practices and policies of the School. The trustees were in reality the support team for the faculty and its Head/President, as well as the objective evaluators of the success of the School. They were, more importantly, the loyalists who could provide true critical loyalty to the institution. They were the cornerstone to the concept we know as governance today.
In the 21st Century, Governance has become synonymous with effective management and leadership models in for-profit and non-profit organizations. Governance is based on a set of standards that if met should ensure the success of the organization. The model begins with the Board of Trustees (or Directors) and their roles and responsibilities.
Their job, expressed succinctly, is to articulate clearly and then act as guardian of the Mission and Strategic Vision of the School. They must preside over an organization that is lawfully created according to the laws of the State in which it is domiciled and that operates under the guidelines of the not-for-profit tax laws which provide it protection. They have, therefore, a far greater role than simply being passionate about the School's vision and purpose; they also have formal, shared responsibility for the well-being and legal operation of the enterprise.
Their second duty of care and responsibility is to elect as director and leader of the operations of the School, and as their proxy as guardian of the Mission, a chief executive officer or Head/President of the School. This seemingly straightforward task may be the most daunting of all when it comes to the Trustees' duties of loyalty and care. Consider for a moment the challenge faced by any family unit at the prospect of having a step parent enter the home. Handing over responsibility for something you have created and are responsible for is never easy. Trusting that new person to do the right thing in his or her own way, without constant correction, interference, or over-bearing guidance is truly a challenge. That is why so many pundits on the subject agree with one Johan Myburgh who opined that "corporate governance is not a matter of right and wrong...it is more nuanced than that."
People in the school business are fond of saying that the primary responsibilities of the Board are "to hire and fire the Head/President." This all too common view of the role may be the reason so many headships are cut short and why so many consultants make their living doing consulting for organizations with Governance issues. The mantra should not be to "hire and fire." Rather the role of the Board is to search responsibly for the best person, to create a process for the thorough vetting of that person, then to hire, to train, to support, to partner with, to evaluate annually, and then to retire that person in a manner that will ensure a smooth transition for the next school leader. The Board at its best works in partnership with the Head/President and his or her team to ensure that the Mission is lived daily in the School and the culture there supports its sustainability. Remember that the Head/President works for the Board whose spokesperson is the Chair. No one Board member, including the Chair, has the legal right to terminate the Head/President. This is written into most by-laws, and the guidance is that the firing of a Head/President must be done by a vote of the Board.
In doing my research for the task of summarizing what is a complex topic, I came across a presentation by a management consultant for non-profits-Chris Grudner-who believes that we have set the bar far too low when talking about best practices in non-profit governance. His model is portrayed by a pyramid in which "passion for the organization and its mission" is the base rather than the apex of the pyramid. This criterion for board membership represents the most basic and minimum requirement, not the most crucial. It is a given, along with the classic warning: "Don't check your brains at the door." He explains that having a passion for the mission, showing up for meetings, and contributing financially to the institution or organization belonged at the base of the pyramid because while they were foundational to having good governance, they were only the beginning of the commitment.
His second level of commitment focused on meeting the legal and professional standards of Board Governance. To be a good trustee and to have a good governance model meant more than be eager to help. Best practices demanded that one conduct one's business as a Trustee in a way that takes into consideration the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of good governance. These include knowing and conducting one's business according to the by-laws of the organization. It meant ensuring that the trustees had proper orientation and training and understood their roles and responsibilities-the do's and do not's of Trusteeship. It includes responsible term limits for all Trustees to encourage a diversity of opinions in the service of the School. Best governance practices also require formal evaluations for the Board as a whole and for the individual members of the Board. Finally, the current standard for responsible leadership and governance models includes a formal, written evaluation of the work of the Head/President that is prepared annually and reflects performance against agreed upon goals and outcomes.
The apex of the pyramid in Grudner's model is the commitment to having "form follow function." If Trustees are indeed responsible for the big pictures of Mission and Strategic Planning and not involved in daily operational issues like staffing and educational or disciplinary issues, they need to be well-informed about matters that do concern them and focused in their agendas and Board priorities on the strategy of the School and its Mission. After all they are the fiduciaries, and they are expected to provide oversight for asset management and use, facilities, finance and investment decisions, and major strategic decisions that will guide the School into the future. Heads/Presidents, in partnership with the Board Chair, must always ensure that the approach you take and the questions you ask reinforce the philosophy of governance you seek to model. In addition to these matters, you must keep in front of them always the matter of succession planning, both for Board members and for the leadership of the School.
Boards from the very beginning have been asked to provide three things: foresight, oversight, and insight. They represent the elder statesmen and women who should be able to look at the School objectively and put their focus on the Mission and the value proposition, and then help set in motion the strategic plan that the School and its administrators will put into operation. The Trustees' focus and the principles of good Governance should be long-range and strategic and never operational. When acting at their best, they serve as the stewards who are described in the important study from the Schools of Integrity Project, in the following way. Trustees must be the best examples of the following leadership traits:
The Keepers of the Moral Compass
In the background and not on the front line
Those who help develop and embody a culture of Integrity
Those who steward the School's philosophy and vision
Drivers of an ethical culture
Sincere and selfless
So why is it that there continues to be so much drama surrounding the governance experience? It is possible that the members or some of the members of the Board have not read or do not take seriously their job descriptions. I understand the task of governance can be daunting. Paul J. Friedman put it succinctly when he said, "You do not need to do anything improper to have a conflict of interest, it is strictly situational."
All this said, a primer may be helpful, and Richard Chait is a great place to start. Boards have three primary functions according to Chait, one of the authors of the seminal text, Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Non-Profit Boards. Chait believes that modern governance models have three pillars, and when a Board is high-functioning, it is engaging in all three modes of thinking and acting. It must act as a Fiduciary and attend to the legal and organizational responsibilities of the institution. Second, it must serve as a Strategist and provide strategic thinking on issues relating to the primacy and delivery of the Mission. Most Boards are reasonably successful in serving these two roles for their Schools.
However, Chait has coined a third term for an equally important and possibly more nuanced role for Board members: Generative governing. Chait believes there is an important difference between voting on the strategic decision to build a new building or to stand up a new program and serving as the Trustee who participates fully and responsibly in a generative discussion at an objective and professional level about the key factors, root causes, and ramifications of such decisions. Generative governance may be the most pure form of Trusteeship because it creates the perfect context for the teamwork needed for successful governance. It also completes the model which was first established in the early 20th Century by the Board Chair and the Treasurer of the Board who visited the School regularly to ensure that needs, plans, and resources were in order so when the entire Board met, its members could focus on the long view, generatively.
After 47 years serving as a boarding school teacher and coach as well as an administrator and Head of School, I believe good governance is the by-product of the following:
Commitment by all to a compelling and inspiring mission;
A strong partnership between the Head/President and the Board Chair based on respect and openness;
Clarity about roles and responsibilities for the Head/President, the Board Chair, and the Trustees;
Regular evaluation of the Head/President and the Board; and
Communication, communication, communication
I also believe that there needs to be concrete agreement that when it is clear that "the china is broken," it is time to make a change-in the assignment of an individual Board member, in the person serving as Chair of the Board, or in the Head/President of the School. And this can only happen if there is open and honest communication about the process of governing the entity.
I want to close with two models that I believe served me well in my tenure as the Head of School. The first is a checklist we used to conduct Board evaluations every third year. We began with the premise that information needed to flow two ways, and that if the leaders or the organization did not have a formal feedback loop for assessment, they were all merely looking at themselves in the mirror...and were rarely surprised or educated.
Our Board evaluations consisted of the following categories/questions:
Size and composition of the Board.
Structure and philosophy of the Board (Governance model).
Diversity of the Board-representative of those we serve and covering necessary areas of expertise.
Effectiveness of Trustee Orientation and training process.
Materials: provided in a timely fashion; informational; sufficient for the task required.
Structure and effectiveness of Board Committees.
Sense of individual responsibility and accountability.
School Mission: Understanding of; commitment to; relevance of.
Trust: Mutual trust and respect among Board members.
Trust in and respect for the Head/President.
Focus on the right priorities. Best practices.
Faculty and student contact.
Schedule of meetings; number of meetings; and location of meetings.
Spouses' attendance and level of engagement.
Opportunity for comment on any aspect of your experience as a Board member that you believe will improve the process or strengthen the Board and the School.
My annual evaluations were based on a four part process which I presented to the Compensation Committee of the Board every May. The process required me to review my performance against the specific goals that my leadership staff and I had set the year before and had shared with the Board for their approval. The "Goals Process" included four to six strategic goals for the School with specific action plans and metrics to access outcomes for each. We used a stoplight rating system of GREEN, YELLOW, and RED to communicate the success of the performance and commentary on the importance of the Goal to the School. (Part two was the presentation for consideration and discussion of the new Goals for the coming year.)
The third requirement of the process was my written self-evaluation statement which was based on and accompanied by the results of an evaluation instrument I would choose yearly, i.e. a 360 degree assessment by my leadership team or by the academic heads. I was asked to interpret the results of the survey instrument and provide perspective on the strengths and weakness identified. The final piece was my presenting a written assessment of the performance of every member of the executive staff who reported to me. (Note: Every third year I would prepare bench-marking of the salaries of the leadership team members comparing their compensation to those doing similar work in a group of ten schools with whom we compare ourselves statistically. At that time I would also present the succession plan for each person and each department, in the event that any member of the team were to leave the School.) Another maxim of good governance is "no surprises!"
The benefit of these two exercises was that neither the members of the Board nor I were ever unclear about how we measured what we were doing relative to plan and how we were partnering with them in the governance of the School.
I realize there will be times when members of the Boards of our schools and Academies feel the need to discuss Sabre Manual, hands in pockets, and the matter of how the cadets are wearing the uniform...especially their covers. They may even be drawn into the debate about filling the beds versus building a healthy community that can be sustained over time. These topics can be frustrating for a Head/President who is focused on matters of educational philosophy or academic programming, but if they can be interwoven into a generative discussion that informs all and advances everyone's understanding of the challenges of staying relevant with a Mission that seems "old school," you may be providing an important opportunity for all leaders in the School to express themselves on matters of import to them. Remember that everyone comes to the task from a different place and perspectives differ and matter.
That is the reason for finding common ground on the matter of School sustainability and effectiveness. If we simply let well-intentioned, bright people wander around our campuses with no direction and no agreement on their purpose for being there, bad things will happen. It must be one of Murphy's many laws.
Learning and Leadership - Brig Gen Doug Murray
New Mexico Military Institute
Section 1 Overview
Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one
not only power of concentration but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
In a very significant way, these words by Martin Luther King resonate with the role of academics at a military school. However, this chapter is not simply about academics. Its focus is broader; it is about learning of which academics is a part for inherent in that concept can be found the underlying reason if not foundation for the military school. This chapter therefore is written to be a bellwether in comprehending why we must have military schools and learning must be a part. Learning, after all, has the power to "transform today's promising ideas into tomorrow's powerful outcomes." It does so because it entails knowledge through education of the mind, skills through training of the body, and experience with which to exercise both upon which character and leadership emerge. As such learning is the lynchpin of the essential and fundamental systems upon which every school and learning enterprise is founded and functions. Those systems derive their purpose and direction from the institutions' vision and mission development through a strategic planning organization and process and identified in its Strategic Plan. The systems include:
1) The Learning System that encompasses what is to be learned and the associated pedagogy - in brief the curriculum.
2) The Support System which entails all the structures, organizations, resources and processes to enable the learning to take place. Admissions, food services and facilities are a few examples.
3) The Accountability System centered on the school's vision and mission which includes the organization and process for assessing the level of student learning in terms of learning outcomes and those for evaluating the support programs in terms of goals and objectives centered within the Strategic Plan.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide insights into the learning system and how it is central to answering "the why" of a military school. It is to pose some key questions and suggest the answers. The components of the two other systems are treated elsewhere in this work.
Question 1: What is the relationship of Learning to the Military School? The Essential Elements
In writing about why military schools are critical in the formation of character and leadership, Dr. Kelly C. Jordan quotes Colonel Robert S. Goss, Superintendent of the New Mexico Military School. He quotes:
"Let it be clearly understood that if this is not a military school it is nothing. By this is meant not only the outward forms and visible signs of military government - the drills and parade - its tinsel and glare, but what is of more importance, the indoor government - the inner, private life, manners and habits of the cadet, the close, constant, kindly supervision over the cadet in every respect - checking him here, urging him there - in the privacy of his room , at his meals, in recitation or at drill - on duty - off duty - at work or play - is the spirit and purpose of [a] military school."
Jordan continues by pointing out "this quotation...captures beautifully the subtle, timeless, potent and effective process of formation and development that occurs within military schools... the combination of military structure and educational focus."
President John Kennedy put it this way, "Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other."
As one begins their tenure at a military school, the central and enduring question that they must always ask: Is leadership and learning central to the mission of this school that I now head? If it is, they must know that success is only possible if these two concepts, are effectively and productively related. To relate that to what Colonel Goss said, I would put it this way:
"If we do not inspire in the cadet a passion to lead and learn by inquiring, discovering, and understanding the world within us and around us, we do nothing and our academy, it is nothing."
That is the central challenge to the new President, Chief Academic Officer, Commandant, Headmaster or Principal. Answering the challenge is where they must start.
Question 2: How Do We Get Started?
The military school is first and foremost a learning enterprise dedicated to preparing the graduates for success at the next step of their development. It must provide a solid foundation in learning upon which to design a career, not just to make a living, but more importantly a life. Because the demographics of our student bodies are diverse in age, background, preparation, interest and commitment, it is not about defining for them a specific future, but it is about discerning for them the pathway to that future.
The critical task for the leader for this to occur requires the designing, development and implementation of the curriculum, the mortar that holds every academic institution together. It entails both content and methodology. The origins and sustainability of the curriculum are found within the school's mission statement which for the military school is leadership. It is that emphasis on leadership that distinguishes the military school from the many other educational institutions at all levels in the United States. That curriculum must be built on two foundational and enduring principles of learning. 1) a liberal education, and 2) through the development of the whole person - mind, body, and soul/character.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) defines Liberal Education as "an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity and change. This approach emphasizes broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture and society) as well as in depth achievement in a specific field of interest." The Association points out "reflecting the traditions of American higher education since the founding, the term 'liberal education' headlines the kinds of learning needed for a free society and for the full development of human talent, liberal education has always been this nation's signature educational tradition...(building) on its core values: expanding horizons, building understanding of the wider world, honing analytical and communication skills and fostering responsibilities beyond self."
While the focus of these statements deals with colleges and universities, the guidelines and promise of a liberal education that integrates liberal arts (music, language, psychology, the arts, etc.) with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are applicable to primary, secondary and post-secondary levels of learning.
Recognizing the centrality of leadership, the second organizing principle that encompasses the curriculum content of a military school is rooted in the "whole person" concept - development of the mind, body, and soul or character. The tenets of such curriculum are not new; in fact, they date back to the ancient Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta. To develop the "whole person," the military learning model integrates two worlds which many think of as the antithesis of one another - the military and the intellectual or academic. John Lovell explores these two worlds and their relationship in his book, Neither Athens Nor Sparta?. The city-state of Athens valued learning, education, inquiry, the development of the mind, the arts; its citizens were to be learned. Athenian democracy required it. The city-state of Sparta, on the other hand, valued the martial arts, discipline, courage, character, honor, the development of the body; its citizens were to be warriors. The learning model of a military school integrates the values of Athens and Sparta into a single curriculum translated into a hierarchy of learning outcomes. The learning outcomes link those aspects of the curriculum that are the responsibility of the Dean (mind), the Athletic Director (body), and the Commandant (leadership/character).
Question 3: How can You Sustain the Effort? Benchmarking Attributes
There are certain attributes, I would say benchmarks that must be constantly assessed and evaluated if success is to be sustained. When these are not met, the entire institution will suffer. These include:
A curriculum that is relevant real world oriented focusing on the fundamentals and one that advances learning in core disciplines in the liberal arts and STEM inculcated with a value system upon which character and leadership can be founded.
A pedagogy that recognizes that all students do not learn the same subjects, the same way in the same time frame and effectively blends personal one on one contact between the teacher and the student with state of the art educational technology
A highly qualified faculty that can address the needs of all students regardless of achievement level or socioeconomic position
A learning environment that is safe, secure, healthy and drug free
Necessary resources and facilities sufficiently maintained and upgraded
Partnerships with all sectors of the community and the school's parents, alumni and other shareholders
Continuous review of the interface and integration of the learning, support and accountability systems - their organizations and processes
An established cooperative, coordinated, consensus oriented, and mission driven decision environment especially between the Dean and the Commandant
In the benchmarking of these attributes, the leader must be attentive to the shortcomings present in much of America's education today. These include: lack of creativity, innovations, self-discipline, and organization; in ability to work as a team; shortfalls in communication competencies, analytical reasoning, the soft skills, and the importance of civic service; and above all the lack of emphasis on integrity and values. It is these shortcomings that must not exist at a military school, and the academic leadership must be responsible to guarantee that.
Question 4: What is the Future:
I always liked Yogi Berra's answer to this question when he opined the future ain't what it used to be. These words offer us a caution. Education in America for the past twenty years has been undergoing a significant and long lasting transformation. It is nothing less than the development of a new paradigm of learning that impacts every aspect of a school's organizations and processes. It has been precipitated by what some have termed the crisis in education and resulted in the development of a series of alternatives to how our youth are educated. The growth and diversity of charter schools, expansion of home schooling, and online schools are a few examples. It is not within the scope of this chapter to discuss these. However, it is important that the new academic leader understand the parameters of this new paradigm for the tenets may challenge some of the major structured aspects of the military school.
I like to think of this transformation in learning occurring in two phases. A "First Phase" to design a new paradigm for learning is not new. It actually dates to before the beginning of this century with an emphasis on the learner rather than the instructor and on learning assessment through the development and identification of learning outcomes. Some would argue this transformation began with a small Catholic nursing school in Milwaukee. Realizing it was no longer meeting the needs of the medical institutions in Milwaukee, and facing declining enrollment, Alverno College took a drastic step by developing an approach to learning focused on an ability-based curriculum and what it termed an "assessment-as-learning approach to education". The centerpiece of the approach requires students to master eight core abilities that include communication analysis, problem-solving, valuing in decision-making, social interaction, developing a global perspective, effective citizenship, and aesthetic engagement.
Nationally, the major catalyst of this first phase was the Association of American Colleges and Universities, AACU, which in 2005 launched a decade-long initiative titled, "Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP)". In 2007 the publication, College Learning for the New Global Century (LEAP) appeared. The publication sets down the essential learning outcomes and guiding principles for America to compete globally. According to the AACU "The essential learning outcomes provide a new framework to guide students' cumulative progress from school through college". In 2008, they became formalized in the publication by the AACU of the Strategic Plan 2008-2012. The five goals that underlie all aspects of the effort include:
A guiding vision for liberal education that rejects a view that liberal education is more than students in the arts and science disciplines and that it is non-vocational
Intentional and integrative learning
Civic diversity and global engagement
Authentic evidence through advance assessment practices
The resulting essential learning outcomes to be realized by the application of knowledge, skills and responsibilities included:
Knowledge of human culture and the physical and natural world
Intellectual and practical skills
Personal and social responsibility
However, it is what I categorize as the "Second Phase" of the effort to transform learning that is new and that offers the greatest challenge in the years ahead to a military school. In part, this phase is a result of technology, which in a number of ways makes it possible. However, it is more than hardware, software, and the latest fad in educational technology. It is an overall and comprehensive approach, perspective, framework or paradigm of learning that challenges the way earlier generations learned. The new paradigm replaces the traditional pedagogy with concepts like "classroom without walls", "project-based learning", and "learning anytime, anyplace, 24/7". It argues that the school as it has been known will no longer be the "self-contained center of learning". Sir Ken Robinson, author and educator wrote,
"The current systems of education were developed in the 19th century to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution, and it shows itself in two ways. One is in the organizational culture of education, which for the most part is very regimented. It's organized a bit like an assembly line. Children are divided into age groups, for example, as if the most important thing they have in common is their date of manufacture. Why? We don't do that in families or in the general community. It's done in schools for reasons of organizational efficiency, not for effective education. We divide each day up into 40-minute periods, for the same reason. And then the day is divided in to separate subjects. We have standardized testing at the end of it. It's very much like an industrial process, and it's not an accident, because our systems of mass education were developed in the 19th century to meet the needs of the new industrial economies and they were designed for efficiency, like other systems of mass production."
A recent analysis in The Economist summarized this new future "Now at least a resolution is underway. At its heart is the idea of moving from a 'one-size-fits-all' education to a more personalized approach with technology allowing each child to be taught at a different speed, in some cases by adoptive computer programs, in others by 'superstar' lecturers of one sort or another, while the job of classroom teachers moves form orator to coach..."
The challenge this approach poses to military schools across this nation is better understood by listing a series of contrasts between the old paradigm and the new.
Each of the new paradigm traits may challenge the traditional structure of a military school with its learning environment bounded by a highly regulated top-down, directed and mandated plan of the day. But, it would be incorrect to conclude that the two forms of learning are mutually exclusive or that the new paradigm should be completely rejected.
Rather, the vision, initiative, ingenuity and commitment of this generation of military school leaders will ultimately determine how the two paradigms can be effectively integrated into the military school curriculum (content and methodology). In accomplishing that not so easy task, they might well provide the model for all of education and learning. What a future that might be!
Question5: What Are Some Best Practices?
Having briefly looked at the future, we now return to the present to identify ten best practices among the many that, if implemented, might help us realize that future.
Insure the leadership uses contextual intelligence obtained by numerous interfaces with all constituents, parents, alumni, and local community.
Develop linkages with academic institutions and associations both nationally and internationally. This would include public and private schools at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels and organizations such as AMCSUS and AACU.
Faculty should engage with the accrediting organizations, and the President/Superintendent and senior leadership must become familiar with the accreditation process.
Define roles for faculty and staff in shared governance.
Promote practices, committees, projects that force the interaction of the Commandant and Dean and their staffs focusing on the institutional learning outcomes and mission.
The Senior leadership, not just the Chief Academic Officer or Dean should attend academic conferences.
Support faculty professional development initiatives.
Promote new pedagogies especially all aspects of education technology.
Keep current with critical educational issues at the local, state, and national levels and how they impact your school.
Understand the academic learning factors that impact access, persistence and completion.
Conclusion - Leadership and Learning
This chapter asked five fundamental questions whose answers identified the essential elements of academics at a military school. However, in the overview, it was pointed out that the focus of the chapter was more comprehensive and inclusive than just looking at academics. The subject of the inquiry and the results encapsulating all five questions and thus the essential elements can be characterized this way.
The role of the military school is to meet the learning needs of our cadets with an exceptional learning model founded on the tenets of a liberal education that helps shape the whole person, ensuring that each graduate is prepared to succeed at their next level of learning and inevitably become a leader serving others in whatever sector of society they enter. Our role, then, is one of example, yet also it is to reach out and share that others might adopt best practices from what we do. In that effort, our graduates are often our best ambassadors. Contextual intelligence alerts us that this role is more important than ever in light of the challenges this nation and our graduates will face in the near and long term in a global society and economy. This role is our heritage! It must be our destiny!
Marketing - Brig Gen David Wesley
The best schools, military or otherwise, effectively market their unique characteristics in a clear and concise way that enables prospective students and their families to rapidly assess and react to those characteristics, so that they can visit the campus or ask for further information, if the school is a good fit for that individual student.
Is your marketing plan effective?
There are many ways to assess your marketing plan and, as we'll see later in this chapter, an outside perspective can be helpful in making that assessment. Internal methods include qualitative and quantitative comparisons of the current student body with: 1) historical norms for the school, 2) Board-stated goals for enrollment, and 3) physical plant/staffing limitations. It does little good to pursue an enrollment level your campus and staff cannot adequately educate and care for. What will you do if the students actually show up? What if the now larger student body is made up of students who are a poor fit for your mission?
Resolve in the first instance to obtain genuine agreement between the Board and the head of school on the appropriate goal for your marketing efforts and then move out to define that plan in terms all can understand and execute.
What makes a strong marketing plan?
A strong plan is a comprehensive set of techniques designed to use available channels (Internet (including, but not limited to: social media outlets, blogs, and other venues that specifically appeal to today's student audience), print media, word of mouth, radio, television, and other outlets) to make the public aware of what your school offers. The most effective plans develop detailed intelligence about the locations where prospective families might be found and what the demographics of those families are. This enables targeted advertising of the school's characteristics to those who, based on a number of demographic facts, are likely to be favorably disposed to utilize that information to learn more the school and, ultimately, to enroll students there.
Like so many other areas of military school administration, marketing should be the primary responsibility of a single senior staff member with the authority to plan and execute and effective marketing campaign that is consistent with the school's mission and its heritage. Reporting directly to the head of the school, this senior staff member must be resourced with sufficient staff and budget to reach, influence, process, and admit the right number and quality of students. Determining this level of staffing and funding is not an easy task and industry standards are of little help, given the myriad circumstances that combine to make each school unique.
When funds are available, the head of school should hire an outside consultant to evaluate the marketing effort and provide fact-based recommendations on the staffing and budgetary requirements to attain the school's stated enrollment goals. There are a host of firms and more than a few individuals who offer this service and their prices can vary widely, as can the ways in which they conduct their data gathering and analysis.
Who are we?
Central to this marketing effort must be a dedicated effort to clearly state the school's identity. Yes, you're a military school...but why? Yes, you're a college prep school...so what? These things are givens on some level, but what do they say about your institution and what it will deliver to families about to part with hard-earned dollars in an effort to prepare their children for a bright future?
Devote a block of time to an internal staff discussion to refine who you are as an educational institution and why you provide a unique value to your students. This isn't a "pie in the sky" aspirational discussion - who you are determines, for good or ill, what benefits you can reasonably expect to provide to your students. Those benefits are what parents truly seek when they opt to pay for a private school education.
Compare your internally-perceived image with your public documents (your Bylaws, your Strategic Plan, those glossy magazines mailed out to alumni/ae, your local town's impression of the school, and more). When you are confident you have the genuine character and values of your school in mind, discuss these things with your Board to ensure they see things in the same way and normalize any disconnects. With these things in hand, you can begin to craft (or re-craft) marketing efforts that let the public know, "If THIS is what you're looking for, WE are your school!"
Accrediting bodies, consultants, fellow heads of schools, and others can help you think through next steps as you align your now-current vision of the school with the vehicles you've established to convey that image to those who might soon select you to educate their children.
Where are the other resources?
Beyond the excellent background and research AMCSUS provides, you can glean a remarkable amount of marketing intel and guidance from the National Association of Independent School's (NAIS) online databases and the materials provided by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). Of particular utility are the demographics you can obtain through the use of the NAIS database found at http://dasl.nais.org/.
Membership (and access to these materials) is not inexpensive, but provides a wealth of insight into all aspects of administering and marketing an effective private school, as well as superb treatment of important topics like governance, safety, discipline, health guidelines, employment law, management of physical assets, among others.
Athletics as an Integral Component of a Military Academy Education - Mark P. Ryan, Ph.D.
North Valley Military Institute
Athletics is arguably an essential, non-negotiable component of a military academy education. Each of the Service Academies, all military colleges in the U.S., and nearly all military secondary schools have integrated athletics into the core components of a cadet's experiences and requirements. While all schools approach athletics in different ways, there are a number of very common characteristics, including quality physical education courses, intramural athletics, interscholastic athletics, fitness activities/challenges outside a cadet's physical education coursework, and a school-wide emphasis on personal wellness.
Quality Physical Education (PE) Courses - Physical education courses should align with the five National Physical Education Standards (see shapeamaerica.org):
Standard 1 - The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
Standard 2 - The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
Standard 3 - The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
Standard 4 - The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
Standard 5 - The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
That means quality Physical Education classes should include explicit instruction in movement patterns/principles/concepts, motor skills, strategies, tactics, and teamwork skills AND provide frequent opportunities for students to be active and interact with others in individual, dual, team sports/activities, and a variety of health-promoting activities. Most quality PE programs perform assessments of student fitness levels, have students set and work toward goals of improving those fitness levels, and provide focused instruction and experiences to enhance the fitness test performance of their cadets.
Intramurals - Intramural athletics involves competition WITHIN THE SCHOOL in a variety of team sports. Since some team sports like basketball or soccer or volleyball are so common and students may have preconceived notions about their abilities or lack thereof in those sports, many schools use intramural athletics as way to expose students to less common sports where they are on a more level playing field with their peers. Sports such as archery, orienteering, bocce ball, bowling, speed badminton, table tennis and paddleball can augment more traditional intramural sports such as flag football, softball, kickball, and sockball. The typical military school intramural competition scenario involves companies competing against each other for some form of honors, whether those are honor unit points, or an intramurals banner or trophy, or some other public recognition for the achievements. Many schools have cadet intramurals NCOs who help schedule participation, organize matches, arrange logistics, and track results. Some schools use cadet leaders as officials for intramural contests, and many schools require all cadets to participate in intramurals as a mandatory element of their cadet experience.
Interscholastic Athletics - Similar to intramurals, interscholastic athletics involves competition OUTSIDE the school, usually against schools of similar size. Most military academies belong to a state or regional consortia of schools aligned within the larger National Federation of State High School Associations (see nfhs.org). Those schools follow standard rules for player eligibility, officiating, conduct of matches, uniforms, etc. Some military academies require all cadets to participate in interscholastic sports at some point during their high school or college careers. Almost all academies offer a wide range of interscholastic athletics, particularly those that appeal to the demographic and skillset of the Corps of Cadets.
Physical Fitness Activities Outside the PE Class - There is a definite culture at a military school. That culture includes a strong sense of esprit de corps, morale, discipline, etc. Part of the athletic dimension of military schools often involves cadets participating in physical fitness activities and challenges outside the regular Physical Education Classroom. West Point requires all cadets to successfully complete the Indoor Obstacle Course Test (IOCT) which tests agility, coordination, strength, aerobic capacity, flexibility, and adaptability. A number of other military schools and colleges have created similar obstacle course experiences for cadets. Many schools also have "physical challenges" that demand cadets hike, river raft, run long distance, backpack, or do other very demanding physical tasks. A number of schools have created special clubs for physical fitness and wellness. Still others have special military awards for successful participation and/or completion of those tasks. At NVMI, we have a grade level challenge for each grade: 6th grade cadets complete an in-cadence mile run; 7th graders complete a high ropes course, 8th graders a 5K run, 9th grades a 35 mile bike ride, 10th graders a Class IV River Rafting expedition, 11th graders a 25 mile hiking/backpacking weekend on the Pacific Crest Trail, and 12th graders run the Los Angeles Marathon. For successfully completing the task, they are awarded a fitness challenge "merit badge."
Wellness Programs - Military academies promote the broader concept of wellness by having healthy meal service, having fitness centers for cadets and staff, providing counseling and religious service supports, and providing both academic and non-academic instruction focused on such skills as decision-making, problem-solving, accessing reliable health information, goal-setting, communication, negotiation and refusal, assertiveness, and advocacy skills.
The United States Military Academy has a saying that "every cadet is an athlete." The military school model emphasizes athletics because they promote teamwork, communication, fitness and wellness, self-confidence, respect for self and others, put winning into perspective, and foster academic success.
Coherence and Integration in the Development of the - Col Jim Benson, MSMC, Ret.
Riverside Military Academy
The traditional military model of education is known for its emphasis on academic rigor, leadership skills, and character development. The academic rigor is well documented in the Academic Handbook, curriculum, course syllabi, and lesson plans. Leadership skills are developed and effectively documented in the JROTC program of instruction, the Corps of Cadets organization and rank structure, the military residence life program and activity schedule, and the Riverside Blue and White Books. The character development program is furthered through the bi-weekly Distinguished Speaker Program and Faculty-facilitated character development seminars, and the Honor Code.
It seems to me that our academic and leadership development programs are coherent, well-documented and effective. To ensure that the character development program possesses coherence and sufficient documentation to ensure we do what we say we do; I offer the following review of our Strategic Plan of June 28, 2010. I believe that repetition is important, and although I verbally reinforced the expectations outlined in the Strategic Plan and Academic Handbook to faculty recently, some were not present, and others who have an important role in cadet character development (TAC officers, cadet activity leaders, and coaches) may have never seen our plan and goals for character development.
STRATEGIC PURPOSE, MISSION, AND GOALS FOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIC STATEMENT AND ETHOS
Riverside Military Academy cadets receive a traditional American-style education where the personal values of selflessness, honor, and patriotism matter. Cadets respect the culture and religious beliefs of others and possess the poise and confidence to express their views with vigor and forethought. They understand history, literature, foreign language, science, mathematics, and communicate effectively in speech and writing. The faculty and staff realize that it is insufficient to educate the mind. They must also educate the heart, soul, and spirit.
The purpose of Riverside Military Academy (RMA) is to develop virtuous and competent young men who are prepared for success in college and positions of responsibility thereafter. The academic and military programs combine to produce young men of character, sound judgment, and commitment. Riverside graduates will embody the characteristics of an educated and engaged citizen - one who is critical to the governance of a free republic.
Riverside Military Academy will be a premier military college preparatory school that provides its graduates with the personal and intellectual attributes necessary for success in college and in life. The foundation of the RMA experience will be an integrated educational experience that develops the whole person.
The Mission of Riverside Military Academy is to prepare ethical young men of character for success in college and in life through the provision of a rigorous academic program, leadership opportunities, competitive athletics, extensive co-curricular activities, and the structure and discipline inherent in a military college preparatory school environment.
INSTITUTIONAL GOALS RELATING TO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Goal 1.d. Graduating cadets will possess the ability to discuss and apply the characteristics of an effective and ethical leader.
Goal 1.h Graduating cadets will possess the ability to resolve moral and ethical issues through rational thought processes and enhanced moral reasoning skills.
Goal 2.g. The faculty will imbed instruction in character and ethical development enriching subject matter throughout the curriculum and co-curriculum.
Goal 4.b. In addition to contributing to the wholistic development of cadets...RMA (athletics) will inculcate the virtues of teamwork, sportsmanship, commitment, and wellness in all cadets.
EXCERPT FROM THE RMA ACADEMIC HANDBOOK
Riverside purports to develop cadets in a wholistic way. Thus, the curriculum and co-curriculum should include material that leads to positive learning outcomes in the following dimensions: 1) integrity, 2) honesty, 3) ethical decision-making, 4) cultural appreciation, 5) social skills, 6) moral reasoning, 7) leadership skills, 8) sound judgment, and more. These outcomes should supplement those delivered, reviewed, and discussed in bi-weekly character development seminars. Thus, to the degree feasible, Riverside teachers will use case studies, examples of these dimensions, and more to teach these whole-person dimensions in a positive way. Course objectives should address whole-person outcomes/learnings, which should be imbedded in syllabi and lesson plans. Emphasis on the Honor Code is one way but is not the only way. Some courses (humanities mainly) lend themselves to this form of instruction.
It is not enough to talk the character development talk; we must walk the talk. Thus, it is important that our teachers, TACs, and coaches have access to the whole person dimensions that we proffer to develop in order to inculcate them into our academic, residence life, and athletic programs. Thus, the following whole person dimensions are offered to assist in their inclusion in our programs. Consistency in definitions is elusive in the whole person literature. However, for the purpose of our work, the following 15 dimensions with definitions are most frequently discovered in the literature.
- Esthetic appreciation - A sense of beauty in the arts, nature, etc.
- Character - Ethical behavior; honesty; integrity; or fortitude
- Citizenship, civic responsibility - Allegiance and support to one's sovereign country; participation in local government and community activities; active and/or voting in local, state, and national elections.
- Identity - "Sense of self in a social, historical, and cultural context; self-acceptance; self-esteem."
- Sound judgment - "The capacity to make reasonable decisions at home and in the workplace, especially those concerning the practical affairs of life; good sense, wisdom." ...the ability to combine hard data with questionable data and intuition to arrive at a conclusion that events prove to be correct.
- Leadership - ...The ability to direct, influence, and motivate others to accomplish the mission and vision of an organization.
- Moral reasoning - The manner and process people use to decide and judge what is moral, immoral, ethical, and unethical.
- Social skills, etiquette, propriety, and decorum - "...codes governing correct behavior; consist of the prescribed forms of conduct in polite society."
- Wellness, health - The sense of being in good physical or mental condition; evidence of energetic activity.
- Human understanding - compassion, empathy, and selflessness.
- Leisure interests and activities - the nature and time allotted to out of work activities.
- Sound family life - the attainment of family values.
- Lifelong learning - motivation for continuous learning post-college.
- Organizational skills and time management
- Cultural appreciation - appreciation for the various races, religions, and country/regions.
Note: A similarity exists between the dimensions of moral reasoning and sound judgment. For purpose of our work, judgment is considered more pragmatic and less tied to personal values than moral reasoning.
The list above is not all inclusive, and I invite you to add to the list as we walk our talk teaching and documenting as we provide an integrated and coherent educational experience at Riverside that truly develops the whole person.
Socratic leadership: Incorporating the Socratic Method in Leadership Development at Military Schools. By Dr. Frank Giuseffi (Former Academic Dean at Missouri Military Academy Adjunct Professor of Education at Lindenwood University - St. Charles, MO.
This is an exciting time in education. Educators must continually be aware of a global market that is demanding non-routine work and employees committed to a service sector that requires innovation, problem-solving and creativity in the work force (Kay, 2010). Associated with this reality, is a pivot in leadership that requires, as one military scholar noted, the qualities of a Lewis and Clark (Thomas, 2009) - the explorer, risk-taker and discoverer. School leaders, at the secondary and college level, must be ready to develop curricula that equips students with the necessary skills to become leaders for such current demands. The military school, whether at the high school, junior college, or four-year college level, is in a unique position to take advantage of the current educational landscape and workforce requirements. Military schools have always been identified as places for leadership training. Yet, while the concept of leadership remains constant in military schools, the methods and programs concerning leadership are changing. Successful professionals in this century must possess character, creativity, problem-solving, communication skills, teaming and leadership (Basset, 2009). Ironically, analyses of the ways we, as educators, can best lead our developing cadet leaders toward these skills of the future is by looking to the past, to the work of Socrates. As one scholar noted "If we harness them correctly, we can blend the best of our traditional intellectual linear culture - Socrates' wisdom of the 5th century BCE - with the current digital culture, creating a new learning environment consistent with the cognitive and expressive demands of the 21st century" (Cookson, 2009). It behooves military school leaders to consider employing the Socratic method in order to prepare students to become productive leaders.
In this chapter I shall present a brief overview of the Socratic method. I will then offer practical information on conducting Socratic discussions. We will then look at a research study I conducted that investigated how sustained use of the Socratic method influenced cadet leadership skills. Lastly, I will present my findings and recommend future work military schools can do to improve cadet leadership skills through the Socratic method.
The Socratic Method
We obviously find early traces of this ancient technique in the teaching of Socrates. Socrates asked probing questions to his interlocutors and tested answers "against reason and fact in a continual and virtuous cycle of honest debate" (Cookson, 2009). As the facilitator of conversations, Socrates analyzed the relationship between ideas, played the devil's advocate and was conscious of the feelings and dynamics of the group (Gose, 2009). This "virtuous cycle of honest debate" is also known as the elenctic method - questioning and answering through cross-examination (McPherran, 2011). In several dialogues Socrates' elenctic method showed this consistent pattern: First, Socrates asked the interlocutor a question, for example from the dialogue, Meno "Can virtue be taught?" Once the interlocutor answered the question, several other questions were asked by Socrates that led the interlocutor (depending on which dialogue one reads) to modify his original answer, state a new answer, be unable to speak to what he actually knew, claim ignorance, was replaced with another interlocutor, or left in anger and bewilderment (Benson, 2011). We find examples of the above in the Euthyphro, Hippias Major, Charmides, and the Gorgias (Benson, 2011). Knowledge of these Platonic dialogues would be helpful to the serious Socratic practitioner.
Although educators may have knowledge about Socrates and his method, it is nonetheless essential that instructors who wish to be Socratic practitioners have, at their disposal, working definitions of the technique. Ultimately, the Socratic method is "a shared dialogue between teacher and students in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning" (Reich, 2003). The facilitator of the discussion, whether that be the instructor or student, uses a variety of techniques in order to ensure that he or she is advancing (pushing) the discussion. In my experience, these techniques have included:
* Opening the discussion with an overriding, essential question
* Asking several other questions that supports the overriding question
* Including "real-world" examples in the supporting questions
* Paying attention to the body language of students; ensuring they are not always looking at the facilitator when speaking
* Caring for the dynamics of the group; helping develop mutual respect and civility
* Starting with a shorter, relevant text before assigning lengthy readings
* Including spontaneous questions when appropriate in the dialogue
As someone who regularly used the Socratic method in his classes, it dawned on me that along with improvement in critical thinking, thoughtful questioning, civility and intellectual confidence, this same method may be able to enhance leadership. This led me to a dissertation topic that asked if the Socratic method could influence the leadership skills of JROTC cadet leaders. The following is a description of my research study. Research Study on the Socratic Method and Leadership In the Spring of 2012 and the Fall and Spring of 2013, I, as the action researcher, set out to discover if the Socratic method influenced five of my students in my Western Intellectual History course. All cadet participants were JROTC leaders. As the action researcher, I collected data in the following ways: 1) a pre- and posttest using The Student Leadership Practice Inventory developed by Kouzes and Posner (2013); 2) weekly journal entries based on writing prompts; 3) a videography; 4) a Socratic method observation instrument, and 5) end of the year interviews. The Student Leadership Practice Inventory, a leadership instrument I would recommend military school educators consider using, is comprised of five "leadership practices." These practices are Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart. Each one of the leadership practices was further defined by six characteristics. This inventory was the pre- and post- test each cadet participant took in order to reflect on their leadership skills. The intention was to see if the emerging themes discovered through the other data collecting mechanisms (journal entries, videography, Socratic method observation instrument, and the end of the year interviews) aligned with the five leadership practices.
Journal entries were assigned every Friday. The prompts usually dealt with the philosopher's thoughts being studied and its relationship to leadership. An example of a writing prompt was "How could Aristotle's concept of the "mean" help leaders make informed decisions?" The videography consisted of video-recording four class sessions. The intention was to see if there were any emerging leadership themes that could be recognized. The Socratic Method Observation instrument consisted of "Socratic educational themes" the researcher deemed important; they were: critical thinking, listening skills, respectful behavior, probing questions, encourages thinking and participation in others, ethical behavior, and values and principles. Every Friday I would grade each cadet participant on each of these skills, giving them a grade of 1 (No evidence), a 2 (Some evidence) or a 3 (Full evidence). Lastly, the End of the Year interviews consisted of nineteen questions that included biographical data, experiences as a cadet leader, the relationship between ethical decision-making and class discussions, and the influence, if any, of the class discussions on their personal leadership development.
Readings in the Western Intellectual History course consisted of a survey of Western Philosophy, beginning with the works of Plato and ending with the thoughts of Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. Students were assigned nightly readings and had to discuss those readings the next day in class. As mentioned, I exclusively conducted the class using the Socratic method, and usually was the facilitator, though, at times, I gave opportunities for students to lead the class discussions.
At the end of the research time period, these themes emerged from the cadet participants:
Emerging themes - Journal entries
* Connection as a leader to people's interests
* Understanding of "self" and others
* Everyone working together
* Being a just leader
* Respect for subordinates Emerging themes - End of Year interviews
* Helping and caring for subordinates
* Improved confidence
* Intellect preceding will (thinking before acting) While both the videography and Socratic Method observation sheet helped me reflect on my pedagogy, neither data collecting instrument indicated enough consistent, thematic information to articulate any coherent findings. Although a small sample, the findings were no less significant. Three out of the five cadet participants in this research study felt, after the pre- and posttest, that they had improved their leadership skills as defined by the five leadership practices. The emerging themes found from the journal entries and end of the year interviews aligned with the five leadership practices which was the question I, as the researcher, initially wanted to know.
Along with these results, there were other unexpected findings that should be noted. First, the importance of journaling. Based on my experience, students master information and reflect on their own thinking and actions when they write down their thoughts. This keeps students focused on the material and connected to what is being covered in the course. Interestingly, the philosophers' ideas - specifically those from Aristotle and Machiavelli made a direct impact on the cadet participants' ideas on leadership. Indeed, the cadet participants seemed to appreciate Aristotle's ideas on the "mean" in ethical behavior and Machiavelli's analogy of the prince depending on the situation, act as either a lion or a fox. A question for military school leaders and educators to ask when developing a leadership curriculum is: Can Western philosophy assist in leadership formation? Based on this study, the answer would be yes.
This essay looked at Socrates' teaching style that has come to be called the Socratic method. It also offered a practical working definition of the teaching method along with detailed information on implementing the method in class. Lastly, a specific research study that saw improvement in leadership skills through the Socratic method was presented. Although this was just one study, it would be beneficial for military school leaders, educators and instructors to begin research on how the Socratic method could influence leadership development among cadets. Military schools, through their JROTC and/or leadership departments, can use the Kouzes and Posner leadership inventory to gauge cadet self- perceptions of leadership while participating in Socratic dialogue. The action researchers can also inquire as to whether actual cadet leadership behavior based on real-world scenarios changed in any way after regular participation with the Socratic method. Military school Deans, Curriculum Directors and Instructional Designers can encourage classroom teachers to be action researchers, investigating the impact their use of the Socratic method can have on their cadets' leadership skills.
I began this essay with the assertion that it is an exciting time in education. Military school leaders can benefit from this excitement by turning their schools into learning laboratories where teachers and administrators become researchers and inculcate in their cadets a desire to participate in deep, thoughtful Socratic discussion. The experience can enhance their leadership in a world that is calling for intelligent, productive leadership.
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