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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Were You Trained to be a Follower or Leader?

When you look back at your history, would you say that you were trained to be a follower or a leader?

For the most part, I was trained to be a follower.

I heard the words, "Do as you're told," more than I heard the words, "What do you think?"

I heard the words, "Do it this way," more than "Let's work together and figure out how we can we make this work."

I heard the words, "Don't speak up," more than "Use your voice to make a difference."

I heard the words, "This is the way it is done," rather than the questions, "What is the best way to proceed for the circumstances that exist?"

I was brought up in a culture of conformity where there were certain places for certain people. For example, as a young girl, it was clear to me that the role of girls was a sideline role where we cheered for boys sports, but weren't allowed to play on school teams.

In church, we were the listeners, but we couldn't partake in altar services as that was a boy's job.

In the workplace, it was often acceptable to use denigrating language about women, and it was often a girl's role to play along and not create any disruption.

Thankfully the world has changed a lot for the better. The roles of girls and women are much more equal and equitable today. Young girls play sports, serve as altar girls, and are not expected to just sit by and take ridicule because of their gender.

As we think about our students today, do we train all students to be leaders or do we reserve the role for some?

Do we expect students to follow more than lead, listen more than talk, conform more than individuate?

Are we creating models of shared leadership in classrooms rather than classrooms with a few leaders and mostly followers?

I think most educators would agree that we want to foster apt leadership skills and the opportunity to learn to lead in each of our students so as they go forward in their lives, they become the leaders, mentors, and guides for those they lead and serve too.