Featured from Military
Departmental Partnering Between Academics & Military Staff
St John's Military School
Andy England email@example.com
Noticing an unacceptable amount of uncompleted homework and a need to improve internal communications between the academic faculty (homework assigners) and the military staff (homework supporters), we implemented a series of steps designed to improve departmental information sharing, encourage accountability among cadets, and increase the amount of completed work and its quality.
The base element is each instructor sharing a list of their homework assignments on a shared drive, which is accessible to the military staff and cadet academics officers. After reviewing this document, the staff is able to address work requirements with cadets, assist as needed, and ensure that work is done in a timely manner. Additionally, the military staff is able to provide cadets with assistance in organizing their approach to completing immediate work requirements v. those with a more long range completion date. We have found this invaluable in dealing with some cadets coming to us with little or no understanding of how to organize and complete school work.
Military staff members attend weekly faculty meetings and visa versa. These meetings provide the opportunity to identify students routinely struggling with on-time work, and the establishment of positive plans of action to address them. Additionally, the teaching faculty are given the opportunity to fully comprehend the amount of after school activities that cadets are involved in. This has resulted in a higher level of dedication from the military staff regarding academic performance.
The academic department heads and senior military personnel meet quarterly to assess the effectiveness of these measures and address needed improvements. The result has been a staff wide focus on academic performance, positive development of student skills pertaining to the prioritization, organization, and completion of work, and higher GPA performance driven by a decrease in zero grades for unfinished work.
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- Accession Policy - Christopher Arendt
- Matriculation - Captain Mark Black, USN, Ret. (FMS)
- School Safety for a Secure Future - Dr. Erroll G. Southers
- SMC AFROTC - Col Sherry Stearns-Boles
- The Millennial Generation - Col Barry Bizzell, USMC, Ret.
- Building and Measuring Moral Resilience - Kelly Jordan
- Resilience on Campus - Dr. Nance Roy
- Resilience, Wellness and GRIT in Virginia Tech Students - Ana Agud
- Fishburne Overview - Captain Mark Black, USN, Ret. (FMS)
- Instilling Honor - Captain Mark Black, USN, Ret. (FMS)
- Relationship between Commandant and Dean - Brigadier General Richard Geraci, USA, Ret (MMA)
- Naval ROTC - Mr. Mark Gough
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats - Colonel Ray Rottman, USAF, Ret. (AMCSUS)
- Accession Policy - Christopher Arendt
- AFROTC Update - Colonel Eric S. Dorminey
- Introduction to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service - Steve Barney
- Military Medicine Initiatives - William H Pieratt
- NROTC Update - CAPT Donald Nisbett
- Cadet Command Overview - MG John R Evans Jr.
- Cadet Command Update - U.S. Army
- Building Global Leaders of Character and Action - Tony McGeorge and Lisa Metzger-Mugg
- Opportunity Orange - Kriscia Tejada (North Valley)
- High Flight - CMSgt Mary Gamache, USAF, Ret. (Randolph-Macon)
- AFROTC Update - Colonel Steve Biggs
- US Coast Guard Office Programs - Lieutenant Macomber and Chief Arambula
- Cadet Command Update -
- Commandants Conference Planning -
- Globalization and Civic Engagement - Brigadier General Doug Murray, USAF, Ret. (NMMI)
- JED Campus - Dr. Nance Roy
- Keynote - Colonel Art Athens, USMC Ret
- NROTC Update - Captain Donald Nisbett
- Resilience and Suicide Prevention - Victor Schwartz MD
- Substance Abuse - Dr. Amelia Arria
- US Army Resilience Program - Colonel Gregory Stokes
- Accession Policy Update - DOD - Personnel and Readiness
- Crisis Response Process - Dr Constance Richards (Randolph-Macon)
- AFROTC SMC - Col Jim Parsons
- Air Force JROTC - U.S. Air Force
- Cadet Command Update - U.S. Army
- Hands on Inspired Leadership - Ferriter Group
- Keynote Address - LtGen George Flynn, USMC, Ret.
- Naval ROTC - Mark Gough
- U.S. Coast Guard Officer Programs - LT Stephen Macomber
- ALICE - Greg and Lisa Crane
- Cadet Command - BG Sean Gainey
- Learning and Earning - Neil Ridley
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.
Bassett, P. F. (2009). Demonstrations of Learning for 21st Century Skills. Independent School Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nais.org/Magazines-Newsletters/ISMagazine/Pages/Demonstrations-of- Learning-for-21st-Century-Schools.aspx
Benson, H.H. (2011). Socratic Method. In D.R. Morrison (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Socrates (pp. 179-201). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Chafee, J. (2012). Thinking critically (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Cookson, P.W. (2009, September). What would Socrates say? Educational Leadership, 67(1), 8-14.
Gose, M. (2009). When Socratic dialogue is flagging: questions and strategies for engaging students. College Teaching, (57)1, 45-49.
Kay, K. (2010). 21st century skills: rethinking how students learn. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Why they matter, what they are, and how we get there (pp. xiii-xxxi). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2013). Student leadership practices inventory. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.
McPherran, M.L. (2010). Socrates, Plato, Eros and liberal education. Oxford Review of Education, 36(5), 527-541. doi: 10.1080/03054985.2010.514433
Reich, R. (2003, Fall). The Socratic Method: What it is and how to use it in the classroom. Speaking of Teaching, 13(1), 1-4.
Thomas, J.J. (2009, October). Leader development in the U. S. Department of Defense: a brief historical review and assessment for the future. Paper presented at the International Military Psychology Conference, Tel Aviv, Israel.
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!
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