Have you noticed how many of the problems we face in schools never actually get solved?
Think about student behaviour, attainment gaps, workload or mental health… conceiving of these as problems for which we will find ‘solutions’ is daft. We don’t solve these problems in the sense of solving a crossword puzzle, or fix them like we fix a broken-down car. These are problems of a different kind; problems which require endless attention.
And have you noticed how, in our attempts to solve one insoluble problem we merely create a range of others? They pop up like a game of wack-a-mole in a cheap arcade.
Solution-orientation is itself problematic when we can, at best, hope to make something better, not complete. Simplistic problem-solution thinking starts with a destination (a solution) and draws a line backwards to our current mire. The pathway is drawn clearly, but the map does not sufficiently chart the swamps which surround the path, or the creatures that live therein. This is where we will inevitably get stuck; we’ll stray far from the path.
I’ve reached the conclusion that there often aren’t solutions, only resolutions. We can resolve to do something or not to do something; no more. Acting in the knowledge that we cannot overcome, dominate or expel that which troubles us helps to focus our mind on a realistic aim. Our steps may be less surely placed, but we will be more careful about where they land. Moving forward is our goal, putting distance between ourselves and the sucking bog we had found ourselves in.
Paying more attention to where we are now, rather than the Emerald City ahead, seems prudent. The green shimmer will forever be on the horizon, but the yellow-brick road will pass pleasingly beneath our feet. We can glance up occasionally, admiringly, but let’s not fool ourselves that we’ll ever reach the city gates.
Being resolute is the state of determination. Forever failing to solve the problems we face erodes our resolve – unless we change our thinking; resolutions, not solutions. Keep on keeping on. Satisfaction must come from the journey, not in reaching the destination. If we cannot find joy in the impossible, we’re in the wrong job.