A friend of mine gave me a book titled Humilitas by John Dickson. The book is a short treatise on the importance of humility in the role of leadership. An interesting fact about Dickson, the author, is that he is a history professor at Macquarie University in Sydney. He claims he is outside his subject area in writing about humility in the context of leadership, but I found some great take-aways from reading this work.
One of the primary nuggets I received is in the chapter titled "Common Sense: The Logic of Humility." Dickson uses a phrase – competency extrapolation – which refers to "knowing a great deal in one area of life is no guarantee of proficiency in another." (52) In a matter of 2-3 pages, Dickson summarized the primary thing I learned through earning a Ph.D. In research doctoral work, you are expected to contribute to the field of knowledge by conducting original research. Essentially, you are to become the "expert" on your dissertation. One of my professors likened selecting a dissertation topic to finding the megapixel on a television screen of knowledge that has never been researched and becoming the expert on that one megapixel. At the end of my program, I did not feel like much of an expert. In fact, I realized how much more there was to learn!
Dickson summarizes competency extrapolation by stating, "True experts ought to be more conscious of their limitations than most. Knowing a lot in one area should, in theory, underline just how much there is to know outside your specialty." Dickson's words remind me of Romans 11:33-36 and the expanse and depth of knowledge. It is important to realize our expertise in a particular area does not mean we are guest experts in other areas. The higher I have gone in formal education, the more I realize how much I do not know. It is humbling.
How does competency extrapolation play out in a Christian school setting? It emerges in many ways, but I think it is apparent in the roles and relationships between parents and teachers. At ECS, we desire to serve in partnership with parents. Our heart is that our teachers teach, disciple, and train students in a way that is an extension of what parents are doing at home. Parents and teachers both invest into the lives of children and both gain a different perspective that can help train students. We need each other "side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).
May we seek to understand different viewpoints and appreciate the viewpoints for what they are intended for – raising a generation to bring honor and glory to God. As we live life with a posture of humility, we are able to recognize that each of us has something to contribute to a particular situation or discussion. We not only need each other to gain perspective of the children in our care, we also need each other in order to learn to walk through life with a sense of humility.