Most educators, maybe most of the general public, live their lives in the belief that scarcity is the way of things. There is only so much to go around, so be sure that you fight for your piece of the pie, even if is at the expense of another.

Our attitudes toward scarcity are reflected in our television shows: American Idol, Survivor, The Apprentice, and the Great Race. It’s a seemingly endless list of programs reinforcing the view that the world is a place of one winner and plenty of losers. It’s a world of scarcity.

Most educators have completely bought into the worldview of scarcity. We do not believe in abundance. We can point to years of “doing without” to prove it. I remember a boss who decided that he couldn’t have everyone he managed be a 4. ( Four was the highest performance rating he could give). In his world, even if you were dealing with the crème de la crème, you had to separate the crème into the “best of the crème” and the “least of the crème”.

When I develop my budgets, I always budget for every employee to receive a 4, and hope they earn it. Whether they do, or not; isn’t based on a formula, a curve, or a belief in scarcity.

The “realists” among us may say, “We have a set district budget. We have a set technology budget. We barely pass the budgets we have. We are all competing for a piece of a limited pie. How can you be talking about a mindset of abundance?”

What if we made it our business to create a world of educational abundance? Education is consistently listed as a top priority for our nation, yet our public schools are not valued highly. What if the public’s belief in the importance of education, aligned with its view of the value it is receiving from public schools?

How can we learn to express the value of education in ways that appeal to the heart, the head, and the pocketbook? What if we could rekindle the American spirit of service, volunteerism, and community? What would it take to have the nation rally behind its educators and children!

As leaders we are called on to create visions of the future that may seem impossible to others. Great leaders inspire others to embrace the vision.

Can you envision a world where education is funded abundantly? If not, I invite you to develop a new belief, a belief that change is possible. You don’t have to blindly accept the scarcity of the past, as the only future, the only reality.

I believe we can create a better and more abundant world for our students and for ourselves. Do you?



6 thoughts on “Scarcity

  1. Jim;
    You hit the target with your comment. It’s probably more important than the monetary view of “scarcity”. It’s a great topic. I see another blog post coming. What an abundance of ideas.

  2. Pete
    There is a physical world where scarcity is real. The TV networks are very much in that world and telling their story, not our story. There are not enough time slots in prime time to put on every show that’s been proposed. There are declining advertising revenues and viewers that makes both seem scarce. There is not enough income to fund more expensive studio productions with scripts, union cast members and countless producers. The networks are feeling like they are in survival, thus that theme in so many reality shows.

    Meanwhile, “tube time” is getting spent differently by a growing population of gamers, DVD renters and Web 2.0 creatives. There is an unlimited digital space for uploaded videos and pics. There’s an overwhelming number of DVD’s to rent. There is a seemingly unlimited number of blogs, links to follow, PDF’s to read, podcasts to listen to, etc. Inside games there are amazing numbers of levels, paths, and ways to increase your score. All that is giving us digital inhabitants the freedom from scarcity you’re clarifying for us. You are telling our digital story; The TV networks are telling their scarcity story.


  3. Peter, I grew up with people from two cultures.. the Inuits and the Tlingets.
    One had a history of existence with scarcity. The other existed in abundance.
    What was interesting is that the art of the Inuits was very rudimentary, mostly related to utilitarian implements, and only existing late in their culture. They simply spent all their time subsisting.

    Yet the Tlingets grew a very rich culture of art… chilkat blankets, totems, and a rich story culture. They had such abundance from the sea that they could afford the luxury of activity beyond subsistence living. They created the Potlatch.

    I would think that our very creation of and access to the media and resources you reference reflects us as a totally abundant culture. We may talk and think scarcity, but we know, deep in our hearts, that we are the richest of the rich and that our attitudes are phoney. Perhaps we look inward to avoid committing our own abundance to those most needy, to those that don’t have schools, books, nor any time to do anything other than subsist?

  4. Dan,
    Yes…I think you are clarifying my thinking a bit. We are talking about “scarcity of spirit”, too; aren’t we. Living small. Living for ourselves. Not seeing the greatness and abundance that each of us has as human beings…and by default it ends up how we treat our students and how we operate our schools.

    I think I need to write this again so that people aren’t misinterpreting this piece as a “money only” post.

    thanks dan,


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