Terry Pickeral, Co-director of the National School Climate Council, answers, “why is a mission statement important?”
Adaptation or creation of focusing elements, like mission statements and mottos, will inform supporting elements like character education in order to develop digital citizenship awareness in education.
We’ve been seeing mission statements for years. These tired pieces of paper tucked away, dog-eared and yellowed can’t be important, right? This must be an idea from yesterday’s schools. In fact, leaders in industries around the world do rely on mission and vision statements. A current article on the business website, Sitepoint, underscores the need for a mission statement. Its purpose is to synthesize the reason for being, give focus to the institution, ease the decision-making process, and hold the institution accountable. With this in mind, it is clear that an educational institution that does not review their mission annual and publish it for all to see doesn’t understand the purpose of a mission statement and is not a serious and dynamic educational institution.
A 21st century mission statement, distilled by all stakeholders, can easily include digital citizenship as part of the core focus. In my opinion, digital citizenship must be included in 21st century education. To ignore the inclusion of technology is not only backward, but serves to eliminate a core element of education. It would be akin to leaving out Reading, Writing or Rithmetic. In our reading of Digital Community, Digital Citizen this week, and in our discussion board, the idea of adding the words “global” or “digital” to mission statements was discussed. I accept the point that current mission statements can easily be adapted to include digital citizenship. But I don’t endorse the practice of arbitrarily throwing in 21st century words to mission statements. Too many districts create and adjust mission statements in order to check-it-off-the-list as opposed to making a meaningful adaptation in order to change a philosophy, or a way of doing business.
Part of the problem of changing words in a mission statement “for show,” was addressed in the Two Camps video on YouTube. One camp is the “old school” leaders who think what we have done in the past applies to current practices. Frankly, I don’t understand how this camp is still encouraged in this day and age. Their existence contributes to this backward way of thinking that in education, we should just leave well enough alone. I was speaking to a colleague this week who felt that the number one job of education is to teach language arts. The second priority, he felt was that students should graduate being technically literate. After that is the instruction of math skills. If we look at education through this lens, expectations for graduation and for high stakes testing look a lot different than what we are doing in education now. Why are we still looking at education the same way we did in the 1950s? Why are we still looking at the inclusion of technology as an add-on? Why are we still letting teachers opt in or out of using technology in their classrooms? I question the ethics of the decision that instruction of a key component of 21st century education is an option.
Gregory, A. (2010, Nov. 13). Why you need to write a mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.sitepoint.com/personal-mission-statement/
Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
Ohler, J. (Producer). (2014, Jan. 8). Two Camps When It Comes to Digital Ethics [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vCMqPOm9A0&feature=youtu.be
Pickeral, T. (Producer). (2009, May 29). Why is a mission statement important? [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YriYIiVkA0I