Monday, November 11, 2013

The Teacher-Leader

When a patient comes to a surgeon, the surgeon's default setting is to say, 'You've got a problem? I'll take the problem off your shoulders and I'll deliver back to you a solution.' In psychiatry, when a person comes to you with a problem, it's not your job actually to solve their problem. It's your job to develop their capacity to solve their own problem.
These are the words of Ronald Heifetz, a professor of public leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School, as found in this article  by Shankar Vedantam from this morning's broadcast of Morning Edition on NPR.

If language teachers are leaders, which kind of leadership should they offer?

My thinking is both, but mostly the second type.  That is, the "problem" of learning a language is complex and highly personal.  There are sub-problems, such as needing to learn how to pronounce a specific sound or having to pass a particular exam, that may benefit from targeted application of the first kind of leadership.  But the actual job of learning a language is up to the learner. 

Maybe many of the problems facing our public school system today are also in need of the second kind of leadership?
The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,

the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17, as translated by Stephen Mitchell

Frédéric Glorieux

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