Threat or opportunity? An arbitrary choice.


Mist over the Kawainui Marsh on my ride to school – threat or possibility underneath?

In schools, when we approach uncertainty, collective emotional responses need to be managed carefully. Such responses are not just passive reactions to a context: they create the context. We have all experienced this.

My thoughts turn to an impending accreditation visit. As a reflective institution, is such a visit a threat or an opportunity? We make a choice, quite arbitrarily it seems. As humans, our imaginations enable us to exaggerate the danger posed by potential threats. This is useful in a hostile environment where we might be eaten; where, if we were not sure of the distinction, erring on the side of caution is a sensible approach.

With instances of uncertainty, as in an impending accreditation visit with a self study and all that this entails, it is necessary to force ourselves to choose a reflective perspective – one of opportunity, to be embraced; to be excited about. This is how we will learn, as individuals and as institutions. This is the choice (a focus on opportunity) that will determine the nature of the context – pleasant, reflective and a valuable learning experience. Your other choice  (a focus on threat) will create a completely different context.

The question is, how do we override our problematic, natural impulse to choose the ecologically safe option?