Saturday, November 10, 2007


I don't go trolling for comments, but I was a little surprised that thoughts on courageous followers got no love. I mean really, ya'll got nothing for me on this one?


Blogger ms. v. said...

well, I thought about that post a lot after I read it, it would drift into my head at random times during conversations at school or whatnot, but I don't really have anything in particular to say in response. I think it's an important point.

8:50 PM  
Blogger H. said...

Same here. I've also thought about the post often since, but had nothing to add.

As an immigrant I've often found the emphasis on leadership here to be a little alien (eh...) anyway. There seems to be more talk about leadership skills than about what destinations one ought to lead anyone toward.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous EZ said...

I read your blog often and have done so for awhile. I appreciate the thought you put into your blog. Your posts often resonate with me -- so don't know why I haven't posted. Anyway here I go.

Leadership is something we should push our students to assume, but we should also encourage critical followership. There is nothing wrong with followership. Its only wrong when we follow uncritically.

I am scared at times we are creating and encouraging a culture where everybody's a lead. Adults and students create something in order to say they've led something. It does not matter if your idea is already being done well by others, you must create, create, create or perish.

But as you make clear, having everyone be a leader is mathematically impossible. Sort of like having everyone be above average. Go NCLB.

My question is how do we encourage all students to both explore the possibility of leadership, while understanding that followership is alright.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Cal said...

I thought the conversation revealed exactly the opposite of what you intended it to. I thought the student was a fool, and couldn't figure out why you were impressed by her comment. I thought your comments to her were quite condescending; I can't imagine talking to a 16 year old like that.

10:23 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Thanks, Cal. That was special.

Feel free to come by again when you have some time flesh out your thoughts. Not that invective isn't fun and all, but it's the cul-de-sac of argument.

6:30 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Ms. V: Thanks.

H: You wrote, "There seems to be more talk about leadership skills than about what destinations one ought to lead anyone toward."

One of the most charismatic, natural leaders among our students currently is one of the most destructive, dangerous kids I've come across in a long time. But he's a leader. He leads. Your point is well-taken.

ez: You wrote, "I am scared at times we are creating and encouraging a culture where everybody's a lead. Adults and students create something in order to say they've led something."

There's a book called "The Age of the Amateur," that discusses the Internet's role in the problem you cite, a problem that is probably made worse by, um, blogs.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous HoosierTeacher said...

I thought about this post for awhile after I read it, too. I agree that kids need to know how to follow, but I don't think we should discourage any student from at least taking a shot at leading. I think as teachers we can be pretty quick to judge and label our students, even with good intentions. "Leader" and "Follower" are both fairly loaded labels, I think we should think very carefully before we assign either to any student without first giving students the opportunity to try them both on.


3:16 PM  
Blogger H. said...

Exactly. It's neither about leading nor following, I think - at least, doing right or doing wrong has nothing to do with that. Some of the worst human behavior ever seen was exhibited by leaders and by followers during WWII, while some of the greatest heroes were those who stubbornly and surreptitiously read the illegal newspapers and hid their refugees in the closet. Sometimes the best thing a high school kid can do is to doggedly work on his math problems at the back of the classroom while the class storms around him, and such behavior is neither leading nor following, as far as I can see, but it does demonstrate independence, diligence and foresight. If we want "Kids who can evaluate situations, find the best path, even if they can't blaze the best path," we might as well leave out the distinction between "leading" and "following" altogether and instead speak of the difference between actions being right or wrong, fair or unfair, courageous or cowardly, truthful or dishonest.

On the other hand, some kids will respond better to "Be a leader!" than to "Do what is right!" even if the same overt behavior is implied. In which case, whatever works, I guess.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Cal said...


invective: vituperative; denunciatory; censoriously abusive.

Probably didn't mean what you thought it meant, huh?

Sorry. I didn't realize that when you asked for comments, you were actually asking for praise.

9:59 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

No Cal, I wasn't looking for praise, and I'm in full possession of the meanings of my words -- but I'm glad I prompted a trip to your dictionary.

You want to disagree or criticize, go right ahead, but your drive-by generalizations and over-the-shoulder insults aren't gonna get you very far. (One-trick ponies are always kind of sad, but in this case, your trick isn't even that good, Cal). You wanna hang, do more than cite the dictionary unnecessarily and call an admirable young woman a fool.

10:04 PM  

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