by: Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D., President, ACS Athens
International School Magazine, IS
Spring 2012, Volume 14, Issue 2
International Herald Tribune, September 23, 2011
Academic Institutions now more than ever must play a leading role in providing the foundation for preparing students to becoming tomorrow’s leaders with ethos. To do that, they need to provide them with a Holistic, Meaningful, and Harmonious educational experience. Therefore, the need for a new approach in educational philosophy is required.
The author believes that the most suitable science theory to utilize in defining an educational philosophy is the String Theory, called “String Theory Educational Leadership” (STEL).
Though there are various string theories, The Standard Model String Theory holds that our world is made up of twelve basic building blocks that interact with one another through four known forces. The twelve basic blocks consist of six quarks and six leptons.
The variations in the theory arise from the relevancy of dimensions. Currently, there are 25 accepted dimensions and the dimension of time; however, many of these dimensions are unobservable and fall into the realm of the unknown. The String Theory posits that the above identified particles do not exist in a three dimensional state, but rather, in one dimensional string that often function in these unobservable realms.
The challenges in education arise from particles and elements operating in unobservable realms. Educators receive students who come to them with many unobservable conditions, and who may function in realms that the average person finds hard to fathom.
In this theory, the smallest but most important particle of education is the student; among others are faculty, staff, parents, the culture of the institution, the Board of Trustees, the mission of the institution, the local community, the government, the global trends, as well as other universities and businesses.
The collective interaction of these particles plays a significant role in shaping the personal and professional future of the students.
Like the forces within the string theory, the four fundamental forces to lead are:
Each student is a potential beacon of light and like the smallest particle; they can have a profound impact on anything and everything. Thus, the understanding of each student is essential in the design of her/his educational experience. We (faculty, administration, parents) need to understand them emotionally, intellectually, socially and physically as well as their dynamic interrelation which affects their behavior.
The design of a Holistic, Meaningful, and Harmonious educational experience also requires faculty and administration to understand and internalize the change in society which means change in the education of students.
Holistic refers to the understanding and successful combination of academic, emotional, physical, intellectual and ethical components to ensure a healthy, balanced individual; an individual who can successfully cope with the changes involved when entering higher education as well as the changes that life brings.
Meaningful is related to the degree of congruence at educational goals and outcomes with students’ dreams, strengths, talents, and desires. In addition, meaningfulness ensures congruence between one’s principles and values and one’s personal and professional life goals.
Harmonious is the designation given to the notion of synchrony and agreement among the various and often competitive dimensions of humanity. In other words, emotions, intelligence and intellect must be harmonically integrated with this integration being a critical characteristic of leadership competencies of listening, thinking, reflections, and decision making.
We define professional development the continuing process of obtaining new competences required to enhance and enrich the knowledge of education.
Professional development for faculty and staff is the cornerstone for providing the best education experience to students.
The author defines innovative leadership in the educational environment as “the continuous act of effectively utilizing people’s differences, their authentic energies, creative ideas, and diverse qualities for the benefit of the students and every member of the academic institutional community.”
The fundamental dimensions of innovative leadership are two: the interpersonal dimension and the setting standards dimension. The interpersonal dimension includes inspiring others to strive for excellence and reaching for their maximum potentials. The setting standards dimension includes establishing the standards to good conduct, serving as models for meeting these standards, and modeling integrity.
Principles and Values
We define principles and values as the underlying priority that guides the actions of all members of the academic institution.
It is much more desirable and necessary the institution to not only clearly define its adopted principles and values but all of its members to adhere them. With the leadership of the institution’s administration, these principles and values are applied and followed in all forms of the institution.
An institution should be judged not only with the results in students’ success but also by how they stand up for their adopted principles and values.
An academic institution must contribute to the formation of more “worldly” human beings who are able to go beyond the prejudices; instilling in their minds that integrity and continuous learning are essential for becoming tomorrow’s leaders with ethos in order to make the world a better place to live in.
- Leadership Collaboration: High School and College Environments
- Innovation, Collaboration and Bridging the High School – University Experience: one example of educational metamorphosis in practice