Leadership Seminar Reflections
There are three elements that are essential to production: Time, Quality, and Quantity. If I could find one phrase that impacted me most from the leadership seminar in the pleasant summer weeks of 2003, it would have to be this phrase, spoken by Dr. Jim Tucker.
If I only had enough time, I could plumb the depths of brain research and put new theory into practice (“praxis,” as I learned in subsequent classes) and impact my students in ever-greater ways. If I only had enough time, I could form diplomatic, tactful answers to those in my local church school who have undermined programs set up for the benefit of the students. If I only had enough time, I could create a portfolio whose contents (quantity) would convince anyone of my skills (quality).
Why does it seem that the missing ingredient is time, not quantity or quality? Did we have enough time during the leadership seminar to understand the concepts of leadership being presented? Did we spend enough time exploring our various learning styles? Was there enough time allotted to reflection, to dialogue on the discussion board, to talking to our advisors, to interacting with our cohorts?
Doubtless the leadership faculty has visited these and many other related questions as they constantly seek to keep the program cutting edge while respecting the time of the participants. I can now see, having spent the last several months immersing myself in this program – this dynamic, interactive, challenging, philosophical, and perhaps most importantly reflective program – that what was presented during the leadership seminar was a great example in "praxis." Allow me to elaborate:
The leadership faculty are diverse individuals who share a common passion: The development of competent, INDIVIDUAL, Christian leaders. I place a special emphasis on "individual" because it appears to me that without this core word - embodied in practice, there would be no program such as the Andrews University Leadership Program. Why did we take all of those learning style inventories? To see how we were all individuals, and how our learning styles might interact with others and therefore affect our leadership styles and capabilities. Why did we listen to lectures on ethics? To give us a foundation upon which to lay our leadership initiatives, and with which we can work with others, carefully and accurately assessing the morality of situations placed in our realm of influence. Why were we introduced to mountains of books that would benefit us on our journey towards effective leadership, but not required to read any? (OK...not many!) To give us freedom to be individuals while laying the groundwork for excellence in leadership.
I left the leadership seminar with a head full of new ideas waiting to be implemented
into my life in some way. Not many weeks after I returned home, I began a new
school year by discussing the "time, quantity, quality," principle
with my sophomore high school students. I had always believed that deadlines
were important, but that students should be allowed to negotiate for later deadlines
if they have done their best (quality)
but were just not able to complete the necessary assignments (quantity)
before the deadline (time). Now
I had a theoretical and philosophical framework for my belief. I now know that
this is process is called "praxis": letting theory affect your practice
and allowing your practice to mold your theory.
I will never be the same person after having experienced this program, which began with a fun and enlightening seminar. But then - I am never the same person that I was the day before. My life is a stream of praxis: I continually evaluate what I do based on what I know, and modify what I know by what I have done that has been effective - or ineffective, as the case may be. Perhaps that is why the leadership program has felt so comfortable to me. Don't get me wrong: I have been stretched to think in new ways and about new subject matter (worldviews, chief among new subject matters!). However, I thrive on thinking! I like making new connections in my brain between knowledge and practice, and enjoy even more encouraging my students to begin this exciting path of learning with me! Thanks, leadership faculty - and more specifically, Shirley Freed - for encouraging me to begin this journey!