Good news: Leadership training in schools

“For centuries, the purpose of schools has been debated by philosophers, from Aristotle to Rousseau to Adler. The basic premise is that schools, for good or evil, mimic the world for which our young people will eventually take responsibility.

Never has this been further from the truth than today. Schools, in defiance of the world, are increasingly counter-cultural. Nearly one in five people in our nation are of school age; watching, observing, listening, and ultimately learning from the way adults behave.

They witness in graphic and uncensored detail the horrors of terrorist attacks on innocent people, and the random killing of black Americans. The see the demeaning vilification of women, and the stubborn resistance to equal pay. They listen to the abuse of our Indigenous families, and are bemused by the arguments around marriage equality. They absorb the torrent of aggression in politics and note the lack of courtesy towards colleagues.

Then they are expected to make a series of decisions about how they will behave, who they will become, and how they will live. To make it more confusing, none of this behaviour would be tolerated in school.” … …

“The very schools politicians critique, the media condemn and the critics judge, pull off what adults cannot. Australian schools may or may not have the best PISA scores in the world, but we do know what to value.” … …

“The young people are taught how to lead. They are expected to be a part of the solution, and not one of the ‘timid souls’, according to Theodore Roosevelt, who sit on the sidelines, critiquing life.” … …

“The leadership attributes we seek to foster in our children are about character. Being wise, strong, kind people who look out for others, and who make a difference. People who lead from a position of strength, building people up; not from a position of weakness, tearing people down.” … …

These are extracts from an article titled ‘Students learn how to ignore leaders modeled by media’ by Briony Scott, a school principal in Australia, published in ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ of 3 August 2016. PISA refers to tests of 15-year-old children in OECD countries.

We do need leaders who work for the good of all in our communities. And who will stand for ‘what is right,’ what is true, and what is honourable.

 

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