How can teachers use their curriculum to train leaders
for the future? How can parents encourage their children to lead when
they grow up? The first place to start in raising your students into
leadership is to change your own education paradigm.
“What in the world do I mean by education paradigm?”
Most of us grew up in a public or private school, which can be likened to a factory. All the students come to the factory or the school. They start in kindergarten and move on to first grade, down the conveyor belt. At each stage of the conveyor belt (or grade level), the student learns the exact same information as everyone else. The students are told what to think. Even though the school may be using tools like classics, the school’s approach to education only teaches students “what to think”.
Too often, teachers lecture and “force-feed” information to their students. Please know I do not believe lectures are bad; they have a place. But too often, teachers lecture, telling their students what to think about the readings. Later on, tests are given to determine if the student knows what the teacher thinks about the readings, not what the students discover about the readings. John Gatto says it well.
After you fall into the habit of accepting what other people tell you to think, you lose the power to think for yourself.
~~John Taylor Gatto, A Different Teacher, 2002
When you have a steady diet of lecture, you lose the
power to think for yourself. To develop leaders of tomorrow, you need
to change the methods used to educate the children of today.
How do you look at education? Do you believe educators needs textbooks for everything? If so, you are training your children to follow. The underlying assumption of textbooks is that the teacher and student do not know enough to evaluate resources so the textbook author will do it for you. All the student has to do is learn the conclusions of the textbook to become successful in “school”. This model of education makes great followers who learn what to think.
Ponder for a moment. Textbooks give students questions to answer. If the student can answer the chosen questions on a test, he can move on to the next piece of information. Textbooks do not encourage students to think outside of the answers in the teacher’s manual. This model has provided our society with highly trained, but poorly educated graduates.
Leadership education takes a different approach to curriculum. One of the essential elements of leadership education is teaching how to think. I don’t think your children should complete their education and not know how to think on their own. Shifting your educational model from “what to think” to “how to think” can be a major change in your life. Below are some practical ways to set a foundation for this type of education by starting with yourself.
As you teach your children how to think, you might see a lifestyle change for your entire family. Leadership education ultimately involves the family as a whole. Initially, it takes much effort from a parent because you must be involved in learning and growing yourself. You can not hand over some workbooks and say “go for it”. Workbooks merely teach your children what to think, not how to think.
To begin your own education as a teacher or parent, start by reading one classic. Choose a classic that interests you. If you’re not sure what classic to read, consult a young adult classics list. After you finish your first classic book, read another one. Repeat this until you have read four or five classics. You are off to the start of a fine education for yourself.
As your children see their parents studying and learning, they begin to have a different idea of what education is all about. You will be excited about what you are learning and want to share it with your own children.
After you finish five classics, read another one and add a writing activity. As you read this classic, keep a reading journal. In your reading journal, write down your thoughts about the story. Share your thoughts with someone else.
Now, it is time to start with your own students. Choose a classic to read aloud together. The first classic you read together should be purely for enjoyment. If your students have never enjoyed classics, you may need to read a few more before moving to journaling and discussing. Once you think your children are ready, ask them to journal about the story after you finish reading each day. Then, discuss what the students wrote in their journal.
Francis Bacon said, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” Reading, writing and discussing is foundational to developing students who think for themselves. If you want your children to be leaders, they must think on their own and classics are the best place to start.
© Kerry Beck, 2007
You may reprint the above article as long as you don’t make any changes and you include the following bio with the article.
Kerry Beck is a homeschool mom and wife! She is the author of Raising Leaders, Not Followers, which encourages parents to train their children to be leaders who lead wisely. She would like to give you a free report about Leadership Education in Homeschool Curriculum--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------