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Leaders and Followers
Hello and Happy Tuesday! As always, I hope this finds you well and that you’re creating opportunities to get outside when you can. We have some new articles coming relating to the current situation but also assume that you’re getting tired of COVID talk filling your inbox and feeds. This week I want to return to our regularly scheduled programming. More specifically, leadership. What does it mean to truly lead?
ONE FROM THE (recent) AGES
Martin Luther King Jr. on leadership and difficult choices:
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
ONE FROM TODAY
Dorothy Sayers on the declining state of education in 1947. While this quote is actually older than our “From the Ages” passage, it’s more true today than it was in 1947. Since then, we’ve continued on this dangerous path rather than reverse course.
“Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to distribute over a wide area? Or do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible?”
Source: “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers (transcription of a 1947 speech at Oxford University)
ONE FROM US
The above two pieces of modern historical wisdom perfectly outline both the problems with the current state of education and the path to a better system.
Leadership has numerous definitions. Being a leader means many different things. Leading a corporation looks very different in times of economic crisis than in a thriving economy. Leading a country during wartime requires a very different value set than during peacetime. The unifying theme for leaders of all types, in good times and bad, is to the right thing rather than take the easy, comfortable, or convenient decision. True leaders never take the path of least resistance because a better decision requires hurdles and hard work. Under this definition, education has very few leaders.
Smartphones are distracting, make deep focus almost impossible, and contribute to anxiety and depression, especially in teens and adolescents. This isn’t to say that we need to take phones away from our burgeoning adults (although it’s not a bad idea), but the facts are in: smartphones and social media are bad for minds, particularly young minds.
This is hardly groundbreaking news to anyone. Yet, most teachers, schools, and school districts fail to enforce anti-smartphone policies, if a policy exists at all. The institutions that are supposed to represent the authority in human development willfully allow into their once hallowed halls the most pernicious detractor of human emotional and cognitive health ever created.
It’s easier to compromise on foundational values than to fight the countless battles with rebellious and impetuous teenagers. It’s easier to lay down than to stand against the pressure from parents who want to keep in touch with their kids at all hours of the day.
Leadership in education means to actively stand against the cultural forces that can detract from optimal development. Our education system now follows trends rather than setting them, compromising or altogether abandoning values that contradict a growing cultural tide. Where are the leaders in education?
We created IHD to strive towards being that authority. Thanks for staying with us. Life is too short to be normal,
P.S. - If you enjoy this train of thought, here’s are a few more things we’ve written on education, smartphones, and values: