John Macmurray argues we need to recognise that human beings are deeply situated, communal beings, whose personhood is steeped in our relations with other people. He then suggests there are two fundamentally different kinds of relation we have as persons, the functional and the personal.
Functional relations essentially allow people to ‘get things done’ by treating others as objects and so produce knowledge of others as objects, for example making a purchase in a shop, while personal relations are those which view each person as an agent and which enable people to learn to live in community. In that sense community development is necessarily part of the core mission of schools.
But thirdly, and most importantly, Macmurray suggests we need to develop a better understanding of the proper relation between the functional and the personal. There is a proper role for functional relations but this is subservient to the personal. The functional supports the personal, it does not represent an end in itself.
So the way a school organises itself and sets its priorities is crucial in enabling the young people in its care to develop personhood. the school develops community by modelling community in the way it conducts relationships at every level.
The school that understands this does not focus on 'high performance, defined in terms of national accountability measures, as an end in itself or even a primary goal. It re-orients its thinking to see that as a secondary purpose, one aspect of each the people in its care becoming a person with a strong sense of community.
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