Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leadership Hopes

"The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born––that there is a genetic factor to leadership. 
This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. 
That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born."

––Warren G. Bennis

Like a merry-go-round, teacher leadership is circular in motion with no beginning and no end, moving up and down and round and round. As a child I spent hours at the playground and my favorite activity involved getting on the merry-go-round, going so fast and then standing still on one of the triangular platforms until I was ready to jump off - while it was still spinning. My goal was always to land successfully on my feet. Sometimes I would get so dizzy that I would have to stay still for quite a time, shake my head and then, of course, I would go again. Playgrounds do not have these wonderful devices anymore because apparently, they are unsafe. During my teaching career, I have mainly ridden the merry-go-round of classroom leadership by myself, but now feel obligated to honor my beliefs and have jumped off. Or have I jumped in? One thing I do know is that I am still on my feet but at times also feel quite dizzy.

Taking chances is something I marvel at in young children. Says Ken Robinson, “Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong”. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost the ability to feel this and we are terrified of being wrong. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” (Robinson, K.). Unfortunately, I believe that it is formal education that is mostly responsible for generating this phenomenon, and as an educational leader I want to see some changes. It seems as if we have stigmatized mistakes and children are frightened to make them.

Is litigation so prominent and severe that we think of this before we think of what is crucial and needed for all ages of children and for their overall development? My passion and my hope is to work back towards allowing children to assess risk for themselves and trust that with a caring and competent adult nearby, they too can learn from their mistakes and take charge of their own learning.