Principals' Institute at DIHC

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    The Relinquishment of the Past, The Acceptance of a New Epoch
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    The Civil War, it has often been noted, is our Trojan War. Homer composed the Iliad more than 300 years after the victorious Greeks left the burning Troy. It may be that 126 years is too short a time for us to produce the great tragic epic celebrating our test of heroism. There was â Gone With the Windâ ¢, a tragic epic but not, of course, of Homeric quality. The novel we pick up today, â Belovedâ ¢, approaches that class, but is more nearly an â Odysseyâ ¢, a comic epic, than an â Iliadâ ¢. That we would even suggest the comparison is of course outlandish. But this novel is of major stature, it is about a journey, and its aim is to set one's land in order. The comparison may have occurred to you. â Beloved â ¢is not about the Civil War nor any of its military heroes, but it encompasses that "irresistible conflict." And its action centers about emancipation, and the painful subject of slavery. I shall suggest no detailed allegory, but this novel is a subtle and powerful testimony to the destiny of our nation.
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    The Tempest
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    The principal, then, whatever his style, must, like the college president, have something of the Zeusian mind, a vision of things. And it is in his vision that the justice (the virtue) of his leadership lies. Let us go on and say that the principal must be the kind of leader of which Plato speaks in the â Republicâ ¢; he must have a political greatness (an administrative ability, we would say, in this instance) combined with wisdom. But the particular kind of wisdom Socrates spoke of is not the â possessionâ ¢ of wisdom; rather, it is an awareness of one's own â lackâ ¢ -- and a desire to pursue --that ultimate wisdom which, as Socrates put it, "the god" alone possesses. Hence, as Leonard Grob has written ("Leadership: the Socratic Model"), Socrates espoused a "critical [or inquiring] spirit" as the â moral groundâ ¢ of all human endeavor. If leadership is not nourished, he says, "by a wellspring of critical process at its center," it "'dries up' and becomes, finally, the mere wielding of power on behalf of static ideals."
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    What Leaders can Do
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    A faculty must not be just a bunch of teachers that gossip together and complain. It must be a community centered around learning. It is your job to make it so. . . . Building a good faculty is your chief responsibility. You can't teach the students; they do. So think of them as your emissaries, extending your benign presence, but doing so with their own particular style, capabilities, genius. You need to promote their genius by letting them instruct you. Nothing so increases your intellectual stature in their eyes as does your learning something from them
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    Maxims for the Principals Institute
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    Excerpts from Comments by Donald Cowan at the 1990 Principals' Institute
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    Lifelong Learning
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    We are, all of us, in the business of education. Mortimer Adler, in his Paideia Proposal, distinguishes between â educatioâ ¢n and â schoolingâ ¢, considering â educatioâ ¢n to be the life -long process of learning by which an individual becomes an educated person, while â schoolingâ ¢ is the formal process that you and I administer to the young. My vocabulary is different; what he calls schooling I call education, and what he calls education I call learning. So it will be with others, and there are many, who write or talk on this work we are in, all with different vocabularies. Still, the reader should have no difficulty; just as the string section of an orchestra automatically shifts to a well -tempered scale when the piano breaks into the concerto, so we adjust our interpretations according to the intention of the message. Meaning exceeds definition, we might say, in the same way that a real landscape is more than a map.
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    Humane Living in an Age of Technology
    (1990-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Donald
    Our society has already entered a new age, in which the basic social structures are undergoing radical change. Most people refuse to recognize the shift and are ingeniously trying to preserve or restore the old. They are busying themselves with educational reforms, economic strategies, strict concern for property and for profit; they doggedly insist on reinforcing the crumbling walls instead of building new structures: "back to basics," the frantic attempt to raise scores, the insistence upon literacy as the single qualification for membership in society, the futile effort to stem a tidal wave of drugs and debauchery with the fragile moralism of a past age. But however we may strive in this direction, the new is among us, whether we like it or not. We are into a new cultural situation, where individual enterprise and ambition will be insufficient motives for the operation of society. Competition, the safeguard against conspiracy, our traditional way of fostering individualism, is no longer effective in an economy not ruled by scarcity. but by the plenty that technology provides. Aggressiveness ceases to be an advantage and is no longer counted a virtue. The question is, can we -- believers in progress that we are -- make a low-key society work?