slide-discussion1The Center for Courage and Renewal in the United States seeks to create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. There is a lot in common between the work of the Center and that of Crossfields Institute. In Healing the Heart of Democracy (Jossey-Bass 2011), Parker J Palmer from the Center writes:

“We’re always being asked how effective is your work, are you getting results and outcomes? I don’t object to that, but I’m really convinced that there’s a terrible problem when effectiveness is our only standard and we become utterly obsessed with outcomes and results. When that happens, what else happens is that we keep taking on smaller and smaller tasks because those are the only ones we can get results with.

If we want to take on big tasks like love and mercy and justice – the tasks that we’re neglecting in our democracy right now – we need another standard by which to measure our actions. And I think that standard is faithfulness.

I don’t mean anything high and mighty by that. I mean, am I faithful to the gifts that I possess, to the strengths and abilities that I bring to the world? Am I faithful to the needs I see around me? Am I faithful to those points at which I intersect the needs of the world and have a chance to serve? Do I enter that opportunity, as complex and challenging as it may be, or do I shy away, run away, for fear that I won’t be able to serve well or that I’ll be stretched beyond my ability to serve?”

His words are an interesting challenge to the processes of quality assurance and compliance in education, and a good prompt for anyone embarking on developing a qualification or starting a new piece of work.