Provision and entitlement

“…Cowl, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt, knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets.

What is the equipment the lecturer needs? St Benedict gives a quick list of what a monk needs – interesting to note the needle, I always think – and the communal way of living of Benedict’s first communities finds other tools safely in the cellarer’s stores or in the library. What do I need that the University can provide me with?

What it provides me with (apart from being couched in terms of office space, desk, bookshelves, &c) is not so very different from what the early monastics sought: management; a structured semester (if not a day); tools.

But today (15th Jan) is the feast of SS Maurus and Placid, and other, Benedictine writers  such as IBenedictines are writing today much more coherently on aspects of the feast.  The only thing that struck me – partly after feeling put upon yesterday (and messing up some paperwork) – was that it is very well to talk about HE provision and entitlement, and dress it up in early medieval clothes, but that is to overlook other aspects of organisation: that odd new(ish) [?] idea of followership, and what Benedict rails against: grumbling.

But is questioning the same thing? An ex-colleague (and neighbour) retweeted this news from Oregon this morning. What does the follower do when parts of an organisation need changing? I suggest that the answer is (in part at least) again found in Benedict, back with the Cellarer:

“…one who is wise, of mature character, sober, not a great eater, not haughty, not excitable,  not offensive, not slow, not wasteful”

Because this obedience – in the sense we see it  in Placid and Maurus – is a community practice, an “ethos statement,” where an organisation listens to its constituents. Followership is therefore not as new an idea as I teased with earlier; it is a modern-dress version of a proper obedience, in which trust is at the heart and the leaders are listening and responsive as much as anyone.

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