James Mayes

Blog: Teach, lead or inspire? #sxsw

In Conference, Personal Development, SXSWi on March 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Out at SXSW this week, with a huge range of thoughts to digest and debate when I return. Sitting by the Bat Bridge this afternoon, I was reminded of a childhood conversation which I wanted to share. There’s been much debate over the last few days of what leadership constitutes, particularly in the contexts of inspiring change, influencing action, etc.

Lead or inspireSimply, when I was about eight, I was somewhat pretentious in class.  I read more than most, liked playing with words.  My teacher of the time set me a clear challenge. Post-prandial perambulation, she said. Go learn to use a dictionary. Properly. Come back tomorrow, tell me what it means and where the words come from. No other homework for you.

Beautiful. I felt like I’d got off lightly compared to other tasks being set. What she actually managed to do was appeal to a side of me I hadn’t recognised at that age. She set off a life-long love of words, particularly of etymology.

I’d rather experience inspiration than leadership any day.

  1. Agree completely. I did a PGCE and I wasn’t many weeks into the course when I realised there is no such thing as teaching. In fact I think it’s impossible to ‘teach’ anyone to do anything. Instead I believe it’s ‘enabling others to learn’, through inspiration, guidance and opening doors for them, standing next to them showing them the way, rather than facing them telling them what to do.

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