Leading Through the Historical Lens
History is a beautiful tapestry of opportunity for authentic introspection. It is a vehicle by which to derive meaning and cultivate a purposeful vision for the future. A wonderful example of this sentiment is embodied in the cultural traditions that grace our lives during this particular time of the year. It is a period where we inherently look at our personal journey to uncover opportunities for recalibration, while acknowledging those areas for which growth has transpired. History offers us an opportunity to evaluate our place in the world and assess the manner in which renewal can be fostered. It is the gateway for reflection and a useful tool for discerning those paths that generate meaningful contributions to the present. We need only look to the year 2020 to understand the importance of a reflective nature within our personal and communal existence. Such elements of authenticity are the only means in which to combat the divisiveness in our world. Yet, an aspiration towards harmony is only attained when we look inward and strive to lead ourselves towards purpose.
The term leadership produces a myriad of connotations that tend to focus on individuality and attributes possessed by only a select few. However, research has provided resounding evidence that leadership is contextual and predicated on factors that go beyond the fixtures of character. In short, authentic leadership is about bridge building and the cultivation of a shared dynamic. A process that requires a self-awareness that is meaningfully generated through deep introspection. Although, we can observe the underpinnings of authentic leadership in our youngest learners who, without the benefit of a reflective repertoire, seem to recognize that cohesion within a team relies on their ability to bring meaning and purpose to the collective. It is at this juncture of self-awareness and motivation, where creativity blossoms and the seeds of stewardship are sown. This space becomes the foundation for intrinsically motivated learning, where passion and drive are cultivated. True leaders of learning rely on this convergence of thought to build a culture of possibility through prioritizing the needs of each individual learner. Within the arc of a profession, one is truly blessed when they recognize the importance of acknowledging those gleams of hope found in the wonder of independent thought. To that end, a facilitator must recognize that the power of learning is found in those moments that use interest as the conduit for meaningful growth. In an educational climate where data overlooks the individual, and areas of content are marginalized, it is important that a reimagined approach to learning takes into account the value and power of a historical lens.
Encouraging independent thought inspires the intrinsic motivation that affords learners the capacity to lead in their personal development. With this as the foundation of learning, the threads of passion will inspire leadership through context. This can be viewed in the manner by which civics is brought to life through a fifth grade class government. As learners engage in the process of establishing a system for organizing the learning environment they navigate, a sense of ownership evolves. Pride for the roles secured through class elections become a part of the daily culture, leading to future decision making opportunities in which communication becomes an essential role. Through the process of internalizing self-regulated experiences, learners embrace their responsibilities as they lead through a sincere quest for understanding. In this community of learners, curriculum is not the construct, but rather a tool that facilitates those constructs designed to promote independent learning. In doing so, content is reimagined and no longer viewed through the isolated lens of its subject matter. Employing an integrated / interdisciplinary mindset allows the area of history to become an effective resource for networking and building the natural elements of civic responsibility.
The repository of history speaks to need being the spark of innovation. Through deliberate questioning, need is uncovered and the undercurrent of progress is harnessed. To that end, a reflective facilitator embraces constructs that foster the importance of inquiry through the simplicity of “WHY ?” To illustrate this point, students curious about preserving their efforts within the class government, sought to understand the function of constitutions, resulting in purposeful learning that was quite impressive. As leaders of their academic journey, these innovative learners uncovered a need, developed a purpose for inquiry, and fostered a rationale for constructing their own constitution. Far greater than any prescribed lesson plan could offer, these students met a charge based on their evaluation of a need. Moreover, they authentically created a path for learning that was guided by self-driven socratic inquiry. Given the time and opportunity to build upon understanding, each unique learner contributed to the process of proudly composing their constitution for the greater good of their learning environment. More importantly, they naturally began to establish the foundation of civic responsibility. This moment reflects the encoding critical to creating a solid neural pathway by which retrieval is made possible. Meaning creating memory.
Shifting the paradigms that frame leadership is critical to meeting the evolving nature of our world. Moving beyond the assumptions that have defined leadership parameters of the past is essential to meeting the objectives and needs of our ever-changing world. In a knowledge-based society, leaders must employ strategies that enhance the capacity to learn while embracing the adaptability necessary to address challenges. Organizations must distinguish between management and leadership if they are to advance their vision and sustain their growth. Understanding that leadership is a combination of complex adaptive systems helps to clearly outline the paradigm shift required to meet the demands of the global community. By melding those systems with the distinct nature of learning, we will be better equipped to build a culture predicated on reflection and creativity. A culture where voices within the community are respectfully acknowledged, as opportunities for the application of progressive thought are strengthened through an understanding of different view points. Fundamentally, engagement is predicated on a certainty that is centered upon trust. It is from such a launching point that diverse thought builds the bridges of commonality. Thus, all committed participants embrace their strengths, fulfilling a vital role in the overall success of a collaborative effort, while enhancing their individual attainment. A community of inspirational learners contribute through a process that sustains individual and collective goals, as a shared vision is infused into all endeavors. When all those invested in the life-long journey of learning view themselves as central pieces to the process, they unlock the ability to move a vision forward. Theodore Roosevelt is attributed with suggesting, “…that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.” Progress requires leadership founded on the notion of stewardship— the essence of which resides in the ability to apply a historical lens.