Since we celebrate Labor Day in September, thoughts of “work” come to mind.

While we’ve recently been hearing a lot about a shortage of workers, no one ever seems to just “work.”  Rather, we hear about companies that are “working hard,” as in, “We’re working hard to bring you the freshest food.”

Frankly, I would have to say that some of the hardest work today is being done by teachers.  I’m sure you’d agree.

And since work is simply a means to earn money, a fulfilled worker needs to have a job that is personally fulfilling.  To put it another way, purposeful.

With that thought in mind, it brings up this question: What is the purpose of a school?

The answers span the gamut, from learning for learning’s sake, providing the education necessary for an individual to be employable, to, in the case of Christian school, raising up disciples to continue to build the Kingdom of God.  Since one of the reasons for education today is to prepare students for jobs that don’t even exist yet, let’s take a little detour from the systems involved in education and examine world of work to see if there are systems in place there too.  For our “tetrahedronic” purposes, recall that a system is composed of 5 elements that work together to produce an overarching principle.

When I discuss schools with teachers, school administrators and boards, I often use the visual example of a boat – either an ancient warship or a Viking vessel (a Karve) – with 5 oars on each side of the craft. I ask those individuals to picture their school as that boat, with the oars on the left side of the boat to stand for Founder’s Heritage (I also use the term Faith Identity, but when you think about it, isn’t our “Faith Identity” the personification of our founder’s heritage too?), Activities, Curriculum, Technology and Surroundings (represented by the acronym FACTS), and the oars on the right side to stand for Asset Management, Retention, Marketing, Enrollment and Development (ARMED).

It’s important to note the balance between the workings of the school, and the importance of the business processes. Anything that has to do with the educational aspect of a school can fit into one of the five elements on the left, while anything related to institutional advancement is present in the five elements on the right side.

So let’s see if we can come up with five elements which can be used to classify any type of work situation there is. May I suggest these:

– Diagnose/Analyze, Recommend and Correct

– Create and Synthesize

– Improve the Quality of Another’s Life

– Serve/Help/Assist

– Teach/Train/Instruct

Think of any type of occupation, and consider if it can be classified within one of the categories listed.

Or, perhaps, we could make Lead/Manage a fifth categorical element, which would then make “Improve the Quality of Another’s Life” as the the overarching principle.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2012-2023