On Teacher Leadership


In my own mind, the judgments I form are held together by my ego; by giving them an aim, or by saying how it is that they follow each other, it directs and organizes them into a space of relation. The leader occupies an analogous position to the collective. The central concern of leadership, when seen this way, then becomes “What does it mean to think?” Forming this relation between thought and leadership is especially important, given that in the context of education a teacher leads their entire class. The question of how to think, how to lead, and what it means to be educated are virtually inseparable:

For example, a heavily outdated educational model might follow the idea of one thought behind many hands. Teachers in this model take on the exclusive role of thought, while the role of students is to perform an imitation of this thinking, like hands which carry out desire. It is the period of arithmetic and language drills. In this pedagogy of imposition, children’s minds are empty things to be filled and quirks are weaknesses to be corrected. The elimination of diverging or resistant personalities is seen as a victory. In this reproduction of the same, thought becomes barren and monotonous. Joyless.

I think a real education ought to exercise itself towards the opposite values. It should be a philosophy where differences are valued. For example, exploration should be valued above imposition – every classroom and every subject might be held like a laboratory, and every session an experiment. The teacher here does not reveal their self to the student as a distinct authority or an instrument of discipline, but as a place that makes new forms of relating possible. Personality is a means, and not necessarily an obstruction. Even in algebra or arithmetic, finding different ways of coming upon a solution should be tolerated. Such an education would also have to make good use of dialogues, because it would likely produce an abundance of diverging viewpoints.

This conception of leadership might make it more difficult to hold everything together under a simple, unified vision; but the fact that it holds complexity over simplicity, joy over duty, and possibility over tradition, makes me think such an endeavor would be inherently refreshing, and well worth the experiment.


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