Courageous Dialogue and Nurturing Wisdom: Professional Development with Dr Karen Bohlin

03 July 2023
Courageous dialogue is vital. For school leaders, every conversation plays a role in building trust and fostering a sense of community. Last week, Tangara School for Girls embarked on a double-edged educational journey, emphasising dialogue and wisdom, thanks to a visit from Dr Karen Bohlin. 
Dr Karen Bohlin is the director of the Practical Wisdom Project at the Abigail Adams Institute in Boston and a Research Affiliate at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. Dr Bohlin brings with her three decades of teaching and leadership experience at both the K-12 and university levels and was the Head of School at Montrose School for 18 years, a school like Tangara in Boston, USA.
As a school that fosters character education and the education of the whole person, training from industry experts such as Dr Bohlin is critical to ensuring that our executive teams are equipped with the skills to meet the challenges faced by school leaders today: unexpected challenges, conflicts to resolve, and the need to meet the diverse needs of students, parents, and staff.
In a polarised culture, we often encounter avoidance and reductionism instead of engagement and respectful dialogue. Additionally, fears—both our own and those of others—can hinder open communication. Dr Bohlin’s workshop explored the need for courageous dialogue and discussed strategies to facilitate it using the Practical Wisdom Framework with the aim to nurture intellectual curiosity, fair-mindedness, trust, and respect for the dignity of all. We believe that fostering courageous dialogue is crucial in creating an environment of growth and understanding.
It was a pleasure to host the teachers and support staff from Montgrove College, our sister school, last week for an all-staff professional development workshop delivered by international speaker Dr Karen Bohlin on ‘The Schooling of Desire: Lessons from Art, Film and Philosophy”. Together we delved into some important questions:  
- How can we learn to respond instead of reacting impulsively? 
- How do we guide students in navigating the multitude of distractions and making wise choices? 
- How do we awaken their desire to pursue authentic flourishing?  
The aim of the workshop was to draw from ancient and contemporary research and empower the staff to use that for nurturing wisdom to help make informed choices in the classroom, through the mentoring system, and with one another. With a commitment to learning and development for the staff, the Montgrove and Tangara teachers are feeling energised to embark on Term 3 with the students and parents!