2024 Resolutions

For those who follow the Gregorian calendar, we move to 2024. The New Year brings with it a chance for each of us to commit to personal and professional resolutions. What are yours? For me, there are three (I tend to relate to the power of three as a trinity of purpose, cadenced by a ternary rhythm and the depth that seeking beyond one or two goals brings – the third will often be the one that requires more searching whereas the first two appear at the surface of the mind as givens).

First, not forgetting the “big rock” of innovation. It is far too easy to forget about the broader purpose of our work and to fall into the quicksand of “business as usual” and in so doing, to inadvertently cause the organisation we are leading to stagnate to an inward-looking, grinding halt. Education has the power to shape the future and if we do not actively and intentionally move the needle of necessary curriculum reform towards global citizenship education with a pronounced, forward looking position on technology, particularly artificial intelligence, it simply will not happen. Answering emails must be done, and administrative humdrum needs to be managed, but pulling away from this to look at the whole from a 10 000 foot view is essential, and when we do this, we are reminded that much needs to be reformed and dynamised.

Second, to consistently look at the students in our care and the adults we are serving through the lens of human flourishing. By this I mean using the spirit and methods of coaching to seek gifts in people and to do what we can to convert those gifts into talents. This involves the principles of gifted education, faculty-led growth conversations and feedback (including working on building a culture of psychological safety for feedback to be constructive and honest). In every person there are gifts, and the mind needs to be brought back to this notion before writing others off, judging them or labelling them as incapable or incompetent. We are all on a journey of self becoming.

Finally, kindness. With the horrors of war raging across the world, increased related social tension and polarisation in communities at different scales and levels, we can lapse into blaming and shaming, bitterness and aggression. Sometimes, paradoxically, people are treated inhumanely in the name of something humane. If we believe in transparency, justice, equity, peace or togetherness, then these cannot merely be words brandished in a type of virtue signalling while the actual behaviour beneath the words speaking up for these causes is poisonous. Leaders have to be compassionate, to be understanding, and to convert the negative into the positive, the will to hurt into the wish to heal. It’s easy to stand on the side lines and curse others, no matter what high and mighty principle is used as an excuse for this behaviour, but it is much harder, and much more the responsibility of the true leader not to sink to these depths and, instead, to seek solutions. This is not easy and we should not pretend to have the key to unlock the doors of negativity that close off our common humanity, but we must try, every day and in every action, to look to the light of kindness, especially when enshrouded in the darkness of hatred.

Whether it is looking to resolutions for the New Year, luck and prosperity in the Lunar New Year in February, exchanging wishes among the family for Nowruz in March, Rosh Hashanah in September, Al Hijri in July or other cultural celebrations of regeneration and change, some commitment to values helps keep us focussed on becoming better human beings.

May your resolutions lift your sites to tomorrow for the development of individual, common and public goods.

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