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Follow the leader (and become a supreme leader!)

30 Dec

Kim Jong UnLeader, leadership, be a leader, become a leader, leaders in the classroom, better leaders, leader leader leader.

You know when you say a word so many times that it ceases to have all meaning?  For me this has been happening a lot recently, to the point I feel like I’m hanging out at a North Korean pep rally.  At conferences, talking to teachers, at workshops, online, here in Dubai everyone seems to want to be a leader, whatever that means.  But what really set me off on this ridiculous rant was the following teacher training and education discussion thread:

Leader discussion2

 

Apart from the fact that the second question presumes an answer to the first one, what are they on about?  Why can’t teachers be seen as teachers?

If you want to argue that by ‘leader’ everyone is actually talking about being a guide and helping learners along the path, then I can reluctantly get on board with this metaphor.  But it seems to me that when people bandy about the word ‘leader’, the most common connotations have to do with power, strength, and taking control.  Just take a look at the most common collocates for either the British or American corpora and you can see that all of the top collocations have to do with politics and power.

I would never relegate the role of the teacher to that of just a passive bystander and firmly believe in the need to get involved, demand-high, and really push learners to stretch themselves.  But striving for the ideal goal of supreme leadership seems to run counter to responsive teaching, promoting learner autonomy and negotiated learning.

Wouldn’t all this energy be better spent focusing on ways to help learners and improve teaching?

To be fair, I never noticed this trend while teaching in other countries, so maybe it’s a local mania.  Anyone else have any experience dealing with this?

P.S. If you are ever interested in giving a conference talk in Dubai and really want to be popular, just call your talk iPad leadership