Thursday, June 07, 2007

Peter Principle

You know the theory. We will each rise to our own very personal level of incompetency – assuming that each of us lives long enough!

For some that might take a very long time. I do realise that there are some astute folks out there who really do know a lot about a lot. However, there are far more of us who have a modicum of knowledge and skill in considerably fewer areas of life. And that means that there are far more of us who will reach our pinacle of Peter Principle process.

I know that is precisely what happened to me when I volunteered my last year of teaching to take a sophomore class of youngsters whose primary goal in life was to academically do as little as possible. Oh, my pride was in full flower and I felt ever so wise in taking a class that otherwise would be assigned to a first year English teacher.

Well, let me assure you that the first year teacher would probably have been far more successful in garnering the support and attention of that class than I could have ever hoped. Those kids humbled me beyond measure. I learned my final year of teaching more about how NOT to control a group of twenty-eight 14-15 year old boys and three girls than I had learned in my whole forty years in the high school classroom.

And what I understood most clearly at the end of the semester was that the time had arrived for me to explore other ways of volunteering, other ways of giving my time, patience, and energy to my community. These youngsters were my comeuppance. And for that I thank them. We all might consider just how beneficial our teachers have been even when the lessons we have had to learn were those we hated to admit that we still hadn't mastered.

To what benefit was that new awareness – that example of the Peter Principle?

It helped me realize that my decision made three months earlier to retire was the right one. It gave me the opportunity to volunteer at a literacy center for refugee moms who had fled their war torn homelands in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethopia, and Afganistan. It gave me an unexpected reading of the gnostic gospels according to some of the other disciples for the Inland Valley Reading for the Blind.

Yeah! If we take responsibility for our lives, if we admit that it is time to move on to new endeavours, if we recognize that we really have reached the ultimate level of our own incompetence, sometimes our world turns into a new adventure.

Oh..and the spelling! It's Aussie style..these folks really are getting to me..and yes..I did write GET..so you can put the F in Red :)