Task Accomplishment vs. Relationship Building: (Telling vs. Humble Inquiry)

Thoughts to consider for all teachers, leaders, and would be education reformers- from leadership guru Edgar Schein in his book, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

The Main Problem- A Culture That Values Task Accomplishment More than Relationship Building

…Most important of all, we value task accomplishment over relationship building and either we are not aware of this cultural bias or, worse, don’t care and don’t want to be bothered with it.”  pg. 55

…The U.S. culture is strongly built on the tacit assumptions of pragmatism, individualism, and status through achievement.  These assumptions introduce a strong bias for getting the job done, which combined with individualism, leads to a devaluing of relationship building, teamwork, and collaboration except as means to the end of task accomplishment.  Given those cultural biases, doing and telling are inevitably valued more than asking and relationship building.  However; as tasks become more complex and interdependent, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building will become more necessary.  That, in turn, will require leaders to become more skilled in Humble Inquiry.” (emphasis added) pg. 66

How does that individualistic bias of task accomplishment play out inside classrooms, school measurement systems, and the corporate education reform movement- a movement that silences and ignores the voices of teachers, those it most depends on for accomplishing its task?



3 responses to “Task Accomplishment vs. Relationship Building: (Telling vs. Humble Inquiry)

  1. I know of a way that children can learn to read (reading being my special interest) that requires teachers to use the gentle art of asking instead of telling. It is a guide for teachers, making the how and what of helping children learn to read which was described in my blog Preschoolers Can Read, applicable in the informal setting of kindergarten or preschool. I call this guide ELTRA (Everybody Learns To Read Approach) and will be creating a blog of that name very soon.

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