Lately I have been spending quite a bit of my thinking time contemplating public engagement in the important work of educating our children and youth. I have spent time trying to better understand how to bring people to a common starting place – and to seek a collective wisdom.
It seems to me that many processes and incredible opportunities for our students are compromised because we haven’t taken the time to build complete understanding, and to recognize the incremental steps that are required in change processes.
I have also contemplated how important community initiatives are set back because people aren’t understanding what we are trying to accomplish. Processes and decisions are stalled; a black shadow of distrust lingers over incredible opportunities – and people express themselves by saying there was a “lack of transparency” in the process, the data and, ultimately, the outcome. I recently googled “Lack of Transparency.” There were 66,400,000 results. So, what’s up with that? Is the world really that closed?
In my opinion, there has been a misinterpretation and gross misunderstanding of the word Transparency and everything that it involves. It seems that people are quite content to align the responsibility of being transparent with one party, avoid their own mutual accountabilities, and then play “monday morning quarterback” once a decision has been made. It is a lot easier to make a decision about the play, once the game is done.
Transparency isn’t the provision of a clear pane of glass through which we look into a problem or challenge. It is more than that. Transparency describes a relationship, and not a state of being. All parties involved in any process, problem or challenge must accept responsibility and undersand the mutuality of the process. Transparency, then, is a reciprocal relationship through which both parties have an accountability to establish understanding.
So – we need to look inward when we make a claim that there has been a lack of transparency. We need to be committed to seeking and realize that information must be provided in an understandable way – AND we need to seek to learn how to understand the information that is provided.