Much of the time I think we as educators and parents focus most of our worries on the academics. Are kids reading well? Can they multiply or divide? ?How can we improve this sentence? While these are of course important I think an equally important if not more important goal is to foster in children a desire to lead and a faith that they have the qualities of a leader.
Sometimes I think we all are looking so hard for someone else to lead us through the unknown we get lost looking when we should be asking ourselves if we can do it. Leadership skills are in all of us but tapping into them I think is a whole different issue.
So what are the challenges? Personally I think we need to establish a difference between being a leader and being bossy or controlling. There is that meme that a person states “Some think my daughter is bossy, I call it developing leadership skills” I disagree with this on a fundamental level. A leader should inspire and no one is ever inspired by bossy people. Not on the playground, not in the classroom and not in the workplace. I feel a part of my job is helping my students realize that they have the ability to be a leader.
One of my favourite stories is “The North Star” by Peter Reynolds. The story tells the tale of a boy who is faced with many paths to travel, a bossy crow tells him to follow a certain direction, he does, leading to a harder and harder journey. Eventually he realizes that he must make his own decisions, he must forge his own path, he must take the lead in his journey to realize his potential.
We must work to help kids realize that they can choose the path least travelled or even never travelled. They do not need to be pulled if they have unique ideas, thoughts or plans we should be nurturing them and helping them to take their own paths. Nothing innovative comes from idly following the leadership of others. Working together, building off each others ideas, learning and growing. That requires leadership in all of us and hopefully we can help everyone realize they have that in them.