Catholic School Matters

September 28, 2020

Autonomy & Radar

I’d like to highlight a few articles that grabbed my attention this month. The HBR article on restoring your sense of control is probably the best story I read. It’s about autonomy. Are your teachers stressed and anxious? How can you provide autonomy to them? The same is true for students or for principals. Without autonomy, we feel stressed and might even gravitate toward easy solutions or ideologies. Autonomy looks different in different places. What might it mean for you?


Ryan Collins, the EduK8me blogger, shared an article from the BBC about the “Batman Effect.” The article points out the value in having an alter ego. When we are faced with difficult things, the value of an alter ego can pull us through. Plus I’m here for any article that can weave Batman and Sasha Fierce together.


An article in ESPN about a California high school quarterback and top recruit who transferred to a high school in Georgia is simply astounding. In order be eligible, the parents dissolved their marriage to make the father’s move with his son a legitimate transfer. The parents plan to remarry after the season. I don’t know what’s more incredible—that a couple would do this or that they would brag about it for an ESPN story or there won’t be consequences.


Pope Francis is coming out with an encyclical this fall, “Fratelli Tutti.” Dr. Carmen Nanko-Fernandez of CTU (and a former Catholic high school religion teacher, explores the meaning of the title and puts this encyclical on solidarity and fraternity on your radar.


Something else should be on your radar--the fallout from the upcoming election on their radar. What if Trump refuses to concede? from the Atlantic is a long read but it’s fascinating history in real time. There is a good chance that the election isn’t decided on November 3rd. We need to prepare ourselves for the resentments and chaos that could ensue.


Likewise, Trump’s latest attacks on the 1619 Project and his desire to develop a new narrative of American history is chilling. This is our field (education). When politicians cross over and begin dictating what should and shouldn’t be taught, we need to pay attention. This could become an even bigger issue for us going forward, as could his remarks that white people have "good genes."


There is a central tension around centralized authority in our government and in our Church. Both systems involve popular opinions and democratic inclinations as well as hierarchical power that is often unquestioned. To that end, read the Crux article on Vatican bureaucracy, “Does the Vatican need a Korean Air-style reboot.” There is value to holding authority accountable and we need to embrace that in our country and in our Church.


Those are just the articles that jumped out. I have plenty of other great information for your reading pleasure.


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Dr. Tim Uhl

Catholic Schools

The Journal of Catholic Education has released a special rolling COVID issue. "COVID Witness to Hope" is one of the latest articles to post

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Catholic School Matters podcast

Wednesday on the Catholic School Matters podcast marks the return of John Galvan, the effervescent superintendent of the Diocese of San Diego. John and I talk about the leadership challenges of the pandemic and how it has reshaped our work.


Check out my past episodes from this season:

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Resilent Leadership: Navigating the Chemistry of Organizations (2009) by Bob Duggan & Jim Moyer.
    2. Resilient Leadership 2.0: Leading wth Calm, Clarity, and Conviction in Anxious Times (2017) by Bob Duggan & Bridgette Theurer.
    3. Racial Justice & the Catholic Church (2010) by Bryan N. Massingale
    4. The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2011) by James H. Cone
    5. Caste: The Origins of our Discontents (2020) by Isabel Wilkerson

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Sep 21, 2020 "Learning While Doing"

            Sep 14, 2020 "Connecting the Disconnected"

            Aug 31, 2020 "Racial Injustice"

            Aug 24, 2020 "Figuring it Out"

            Aug 17, 2020 Serenity Prayer

            May 24, 2020 Value Proposition During Uncertain Times


            For previous newsletters, click this link

            Orchestrating Conflict

            Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation. This is my first book and has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years.