Scroll Top

Emu Parades

I’ll bet that you know a non-school leader seeking an edge or inspiration in their work who has found it in the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.

Their mantra of “sweeping the sheds” has become a lightning rod for any leader looking to foster selflessness, humility and the priority of the collective within the individuals of their teams.

Myself, I’ve even read some stirring case studies of how this attitude has transformed performance.

Of course, getting your hands dirty for the greater good wasn’t invented by a rugby team.  For decades, Australian schools were running it in the form of what was called an Emu Parade.

Emu Parades involved every student in the school spending a short period of time scouring the school’s grounds for rubbish.  It wasn’t just for the kids caught littering or those who’d been naughty.  It was everyone.

I remember Emu Parades.  And I didn’t mind them.  I’ve even heard of a few rare schools who are still deploying Emu Parades.

But I’ve also heard stories of complaint from angry parents and staff members who no longer consider picking up rubbish part of their contribution.  “How dare you insist my child pick up filthy icy pole sticks that s/he didn’t even drop.  That’s so unfair!”

Of course, this was never about fairness.  It was about investment.  Investment in my wonderful school as a clean place that I can be proud of.  Investment in building selflessness and humility in our kids.

It’s funny isn’t it, how we admire rich sportspeople who pick up their own discarded strapping tape and Gatorade bottles occasionally, yet deny our kids the chance to learn the very same, apparently valuable, qualities.

How could your school enlist parental support to build humility in their children this year?  That’s a question.

Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. Queensland School Leaders … this is your last shot at it!  I’m running a FREE 2-hour seminar titled “School Culture In Focus” at Emmanuel College on Wednesday 18th January from 1.30pm. Register pronto!

PPS.  No emus were harmed in the production of this message or in any school based parades.  

Want to subscribe to Adam’s Home Truths? Simply subscribe here.