Education, “The Peter Principle”, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, MRF & Some of What I Learned

Administration and teachers“My dream was to help others. As an educator I am now being guided to help adults that are abused and bullied.  Ugly childhood experiences have led me down a different path than most. Many victims feel that they must remain silent and that silence will stop the abuse. It doesn’t. Silence does not bring peace, but only feeds the abuser and allows him or her to continue to bully others. My initial goal is to make sure these victims get the word out. My final goal is make this an unnecessary task.

Because schools grant immense authority to administrators, those who have a tendency to bully find it easy to take advantage of anyone under their supervision. Teachers are trained to accept authority without question. It’s this top-down approach that has created the grievance and complaint system common in most school districts. A teacher cannot simply go into a principal’s office, close the door, and say “I’m not happy about the way you treated me today.” There is very little give and take. Unless the administration believes strongly in the team approach, every complaint requires paperwork and documentation. It’s not a friendly system and is one that can be manipulated by a bully.

Dr. Laurence Peter first described “The Peter Principle” in 1969. His book stated that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence”. This is certainly true in schools. Many administrators find themselves promoted to a position for which they are not suited. They fear that their incompetence will somehow be exposed. Therefore they fear anyone who questions their authority, believing that those who question have figured out their secret.

Not every teacher makes a good administrator. Not every administrator was a good teacher. A good administrator allows good educators to teach. Bad administrators interfere in the classroom in order to exert their authority. A well-run school is one in which administration and teachers work together to create a good educational product. Superintendents are often hired because they have a good track record for passing mill levies or for obtaining grants and funds for their district. They are rarely hired because of excellence in the classroom.

Rather than a doctorate in education, it would be better if most administrators worked toward degrees in finance and business. Schools are in the business of education and operate with very large budgets. Sadly, most administrators have never managed or owned a business. Many lack the people skills required to create healthy and productive workplaces. For many school systems, it would be wise to hire people with the professional skills needed in such positions and teach them the language of education.

Let those suited for these positions run their departments as they have been trained. These include non-classroom departments such as: administration, human relations/personnel, communications, and finance. A proper business approach would also help eliminate some of the bullies in the system. Good managers utilize powerful interpersonal skills and adequately delegate authority.

I highly recommend educators do the following: the Dale Carnegie program

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • stop the teaching method I call “MRF (memorize, regurgitate and forget)”
  • stop social promotion
  • teach with passion and make every effort to impart their knowledge to the next generation.

To learn more of what I learned check out the book, or continue following my blog.


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