As I sat in a class that someone one else was teaching recently, it struck me that in the USA we have been steeped in the ethos of consumerism all of our lives and that the person that produced the class I was consuming at that moment most surely spent more energy in preparation than I did. It made me wonder if we get used to being passive consumers rather than active producers.

In terms of leadership training, especially for kids, there is not much content already produced that we can readily consume even if we have plenty of financial resources to purchase any program. So we are forced by circumstances to spend the additional energy required to produce our own program, materials, activities, practices, etc. To me it is somewhat reminiscent of homeschooling.

We have homeschooled some of our children and all of them have spent time in public schools. This blog’s scope is not about the rightness or wrongness of either choice, but we definitely noticed that sending them back to public school gave us extra hours because we delegated some of their schooling analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation to the teachers employed by our city. We enjoyed homeschooling too, but it took far more effort to produce homeschool for our children to consume than it took us to send them to consume what the public school produced.

So this brings me back to leadership training. If there is no easily pre-prepared program, then we have to develop or produce our own. This may be daunting to some, so perhaps I’ll have to develop modules they can consume with a lower available energy ‘budget’. It feels like homeschooling all over again, with the exception that there are not as many prepared programs to draw upon, to cull through to get ideas about what I want to teach and do not want to teach our children. Additionally, with skills it takes doing it to improve (pyschomotor domain). With some of our homeschooling, it was primarly knowledge (cognitive domain). Leadership also includes attitudes (affective domain). Each of these areas require a different approach.

Additionally, leadership is a complex set of interactions between attitudes, skills, and knowledge. Somehow we have to teach the children the theory of it so they can predict outcomes and correctly intervene as needed, and we have to set up opportunities for those Ah ha! moments where they discover the interrelated connections for themselves and thus keep those lessons in the active portion of their memories. It is by failing early and failing often, with leadership anyway, that young people can quickly gain an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

So my point in this posting is to say that we must build our expectations for a higher level of energy expenditure if we are to teach our children leadership. For we must be producers, active, creating. Today, there can be no easier path of passive consumerism for this end.

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KW Lanham



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