Outrospection in Small Schools
‘Outrospection’, which refers to looking outside and beyond ourselves to discover ‘who we are and what it is that we want to do with our lives’, is a term I had never heard used before until I read it in philosopher Roman Krznaric’s book ‘Empathy – Why it Matters, and How to Get It’. Krznaric believes that the less we look inwards (in the manner of outrospection’s navel-gazing twin) the more likely we are to engage with and be engaged by both local and global communities and to empathise with what drives and concerns them.
Schools and outrospection are very distant relations; happy to look outwards to find packaged solutions to pedagogical problems (the Accelerated Reader is a good example) but otherwise, like Sartre’s famous gaze, for them, the act of seeing and the act of being seen is focused intensely inward. And if transparency is a concept with which teachers are completely familiar, the reality is they grow the future – the values of learners and the cast of the adults they become – quite privately, ruling freely in the classroom with a freedom (in planning and delivery of lessons, reporting and target setting) not seen in many other professions. Deeply engaged with every moment in pupils’ journey to mastery, everything done in classrooms is done for the benefit of learners, and those who teach, teach for every reason that has nothing to do with the global exchange or the ten principles of economics. No ‘incentives’ make us try harder to embed a love of learning in our pupils and no market principle will ever replace sheer passion for our subjects, but the values of society and how it regards the mission of schools has changed and the values of parents have changed along with it. No longer able to look inwards, to succeed, parents want schools to think of everything – someone to teach meta-effective awareness to the Year 4s, plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit and a scheme to expand the brand overseas.