When art inspires reflection!


My son and his girlfriend have just returned from 5 weeks in Europe and one of their photos was of the Pietà in St Peter’s Bascillica in the Vatican City AND before anyone starts NO it wasn’t the old slide show or photo album night but rather a connection between their phones to our TV. What that technology did enable was us to see up close the magnificent detail in the sculpture.

However more than admiring the sculpture which was said to be one of Michelangelo’s finest works I’m struck by its story which got me to thinking about what one puts one names to – but more about that later.

The story goes that when Michelangelo was a young 22-year-old he travelled to Rome to create a funeral monument for Cardinal Jean de Biheres . He spent the best part of 2 years working on what he said was the finest block of marble he had seen. There was some controversy to the sculpture at the time as Mary was depicted as a very young mother of a 33-year-old son.  When finished he either overheard a conversation or asked some visitors who attributing the work to another artist. He then promptly went back and inscribed his name. He later regretted his pride and vowed to never again signed his name on any work.

So the question I’m posting is what work do you want your name to be inscribed on and if so what might be any regrets you may have?

I find this an interesting and somewhat challenging question as an educator and leader to answer myself. What does one define as one’s work is the first part of the question and then what am I proud to inscribe my name upon.

I was walking through the school yard today and had many students yell out hi Mr Walker or run up and want a high-five or a hug and I think that relationship – you see they believe I’m their principal – is special but is that my work or the byproduct of my work?

I had a conversation with two teachers the same afternoon and complimented them on the work in their classrooms which were calm, ordered, peaceful, industrious, supportive and challenging environments where students knew what was expected, could articulate their goal of lessons and were willing to try, persist and in some cases even fail. Sounds fantastic from two teachers who are themselves learners – is that my work or the byproduct of my work?

I’m busy trying to write a series of articles that I hope will lead to a book on our work about intentionally using certain processes to change a school culture towards an evidenced based, challenging and self-reflective community of learners. So in one sense I’m inscribing my name to that writing and I guess by default the work as well.

I’m still pondering the question really – but would be interested in your thoughts – but just posting the picture gives me the opportunity to gaze at a piece of beauty – which by itself is pretty good anyway.

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