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Administration, Education, Leadership, Teaching

Overcoming the Paradox of Participation

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.  ~Robert F. Kennedy

On The Long Road of Life

cc flickr photo: by Becka Spence

I am one person.

I can not do enough.

I feel incredibly small, in an incredibly big world.

I don’t have time.

I am inconsequential.

What difference can I make?

We spend a lot of time trying to convince ourselves, and others, that these statements are not true.  Overcoming this paradox of participation (the failure to act because we believe our contribution makes no difference) may be the single most significant challenge faced by educational leaders.  We are obligated to encourage difference makers within our school communities. In order for our schools to be meaningful and productive places of learning, both staff and students need to believe that the decisions they make, and the actions they take, will have a positive impact on others–and potentially, the world in which we live.


As educators, it can be easy to get discouraged when we feel like our actions are not making a difference.  Students feel small and insignificant when they are not given opportunities to problem solve and share their knowledge with others.  School leaders must be cognizant of both — involving teachers in the decision making process and providing students with frequent opportunities to be difference makers.


Most importantly, educational leaders must model the philosophy that a single action can make a difference.  Keep doing your job in a manner that shows you care because you can not predict the future impact your actions might have on others–it is often the little things that matter most.




About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


One thought on “Overcoming the Paradox of Participation

  1. Awesome blog. Sorry I found it so late. Very inspiring … it is all about perspective, though, isn’t it. 🙂

    Posted by Sylvia | April 11, 2011, 7:50 pm

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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