Monday, January 31, 2011

Attention Seeking Parent

I’m not sure how everyone else feels, but personally I think Facebook is one of the most useful tools out there today. At least for me as a quasi-professional musician, Facebook is a powerful networking tool. Many of my professors agree, they publicize their gigs via Facebook events, catch up with old friends that might hire them, and stay in touch with new contacts. It’s invaluable. Granted, not everyone on Facebook uses it for strictly networking purposes so I see where Hingston is coming from, but it’s offensive when she writes in such an accusatory tone as if Facebook is destroying the culture of modern America.

As for the schooling system of our society, it’s unfortunate that there’s still so much generalization across the board. On a large scale (bear with me for a second) humans have progressively become more specialized in their respective trade. So other than the fact that schools want more money for advertising that their student body scored higher on whatever standardized test they administer, why do so many public grade school systems require that every graduate must have acquired 3 science credits, 4 math, 3 social sciences, etc? If someone had a passion to grow up to manage his own landscaping company, is there anything that he’s going to learn in school that’s relevant to his job that he can’t learn on the job? There’s too much emphasis these days on the “universalization” of our society.

Overall, I’d say Hingston expressed a misleading argument. There are so many places she could have/should have used supporting facts rather than general claims (but I’m going to go ahead and contradict myself and not cite any of them) that it just seemed like a frazzled parent needing some attention.

Jon Lacy

An Issue Worth Examining, When Researched With an Open Mind

As an initial reaction to the article, I agree with what one commenter said:

Are there idiots amongst my fellow high school and college students? You better believe it. But the rumors of Generation Y's demise have been, to paraphrase Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated. Are there plenty of self-absorbed, anti-intellectual, vacuous, whorish, fame-driven, disrespectful punks? Of course, and MTV surely isn't helping by perpetuating that machine. But the more I reach out to my peers, the more I'm surprised at how many are far more intelligent and intellectually curious than I'd given them credit for.

And I would add that aside from the “self-absorbed…punks” there is a huge population of people who actively defy that teen stereotype: people who want to learn and who fight the apathy towards knowledge and humanity. Perhaps the author has some valid points, but I have to believe that her generalizations are painfully inaccurate for the majority of the population (don’t know how to use a ruler? don’t know the days of the week or who fought in WWII? I suspect a parenting issue on the author’s part). This lowers her credibility. Her examples seem to be more the exception than the rule.

That said, some of her points are worth examining:

1. I agree that video games, Facebook, and Netflix can be a distraction and even an addiction: they inhibit the desire to learn and discipline to work. I know for me The Office, which is always available on my instant Netflix streaming, is always a temptation I have to ignore in order to get work done (as it is now). And as the author argues, it could perhaps become a dangerous vehicle for creating addictive behavior, even outside of the world of technology (though she offers no supporting data). However, distractions have always been ubiquitous—before Netflix there was still TV, before iTunes there was still radio; why are this generation’s distractions necessarily worse?

2. The Internet can be a vehicle for laziness: I no longer have to memorize dates or conversion tables—because all that information is easily accessible online. This potentially inhibits one type of learning—rote memorization. But that is only one aspect of intellectual ability. The effects of the Internet are positive for other aspects: as I (we) are using the Internet for this assignment and this blog, it is facilitating discussion and challenging our critical thinking skills. I think blogs are some of the best launching pads for pooling knowledge, thinking critically, and reaching solutions.

3. I consider myself a heavy user of technology (though perhaps not relative to the kids the author targets) and I do find myself easily distracted; as I was reading the line: “Heavy users of multimedia have a very hard time filtering out distracting information, (page2)” I was distracted by noise around me. Perhaps she is correct in saying our collective attention span and ability for “top-down attention” has withered—but I’m not prepared to simply take her word for it based exclusively on anecdotal evidence. She offers no proof that technology is the underlying cause or in fact that our attention span has truly shortened at all.

4. This constant stream of addictive technology also interferes with personal/intimate interactions. Now we do so much of our communication on our phones and online that maybe it is impeding our ability to confront people, to be social, etc. in person. I can see that evolving into a much more serious problem of degrading moral standards: it is easier to hurt someone if you don’t have to face them in person. Are we headed down the path of losing our humanity completely, as in Lord of the Flies? I wouldn’t go nearly so far as the author suggests; we are not so ignorant or passionless to allow virtual communication to replace physical interaction completely. Yes, new technology requires new standards, but humanity has a perpetually brutal, inhumane history: it’s nothing new.

5. I have a problem with the author exclusively pinning teens. Adults are aggravating the problems the author describes just as much as kids. Adults are largely responsible for teaching their children the value of personal interaction, the importance of leaning and furthering the realm of knowledge, and of self-discipline. Adults are, if anything, encouraging this migration to technology by selling World of Warcraft and Netflix and iPhones to kids, and reinforcing apathetic behaviors toward learning by allowing their kids to spend six hours a day gaming. And who says it’s only kids who own iPhones, who have Facebook accounts, who watch marathons of their favorite shows on Netflix? Adults are just as guilty.

6. She suggests that the standard of education has lowered since the days of her youth. That is another blanket assumption without evidence. My education was first-rate: my parents have said many times that it was much better than their pre-college education (“Dante’s Inferno in 10th grade? I didn’t read that until my junior year in college!” And they attended Smith College and Dartmouth College.) Further, my peers were intelligent, engaged and talented—and they became such while using Facebook, the Internet, and texting. Obviously I can’t make a blanket assumption either, but at least I see efforts being made to raise the standard of education.

7. As a side note, I like the author’s line, “we subsist on a steady state of what-we-already-believe. (page 8)” I think that’s true, but what does that have to do with the author’s thesis? Close-mindedness and shortsightedness are certainly issues in today’s society, but I find it somewhat irrelevant. It is, first of all, certainly not unique to our generation, and second, it’s unrelated to technology’s degrading effects on our capacity to learn.

Though there might be real problems with our teaching and learning strategies, I don’t think that technology itself is the cause. Surely there are underlying issues in society in terms of our values and our standard of discipline that lead to addictions to World of Warcraft, Facebook, etc., but then the onslaught of technology is only a manifestation of a deeper problem. To find solutions, our definition of “teaching,” “learning, “ and what we deem “valuable” or “essential” knowledge must be examined. As she says, new ways of learning are different, but perhaps not inherently worse (page 4). We need to analyze this within the context of a world—our world—in which technology does exist, not imagining a pre-technology world without these problems, which never existed. Then maybe we can start making conclusions.

Different learners: Hingston vs Us

In her article “Is It Just Us, Or Are Kids Getting Really Stupid?” Sandy Hingston argues that new technologies are counterproductive to our youths’ basic intelligence. Although Hingston does make a valid point that technology affects my generation in many ways, she has a negative tone, the language she uses is offensive and the majority of her argument is based on generalizations, not facts. For example Hingston says, “They don’t read. They can’t spell. They spend all their time playing computer games and texting and hanging out with one another on Facebook” (Hingston 1). This statement is just the author’s thought with no evidence to back it up. She is correct in noticing that the youth today depends more on technology to accomplish different things, like spell checking a paper, networking on Facebook, texting, and playing games on the internet, but I don’t understand how using technology as a resource makes my generation less intelligent than hers. Because Hingston did not grow up with same technology surrounding her she has a hard time empathizing with the youth’s attachment to technology.

I agree with Nijel when he talks about the public school system. Hingston’s son Jake is a product of public schools, which do not always have enough funding, or qualified teachers. I attended both a public and a private school and there were obvious differences. For example current events were rarely discussed at my public school because it was not in the curriculum. When I went to private school teachers devoted time to what was going on in the world whether or not it was on the syllabus; this “basic knowledge” was mandatory.

What we consider “basic” changes by generation. Knowing how many quarts in a gallon used to be basic information but now since we have resources like the Internet to find out how many quarts are in a gallon, people don’t feel the need to memorize it. I can say from my experience that I don’t know or remember a lot of basic information like my social security number, or what the date is all the time. I don’t feel the need to commit these things to memory because I have resources where all of my answers are accessible to me at the click of a button.

Hingston does make a good point about healthy relationships. She says, “rather than learn from the past, our kids just click the mouse and start the game over. What does that mean for their chances of forming lasting friendships, or marriages?”(Hingston 9). Game simulation has been becoming a more integral role in military recruitment. Kids that can desensitize themselves to killing are better candidates for the military, but what happens when kids become desensitized to dying. Will they ever truly understand the value of life?

Hingston’s concern seems genuine; she is a parent worried about the development of her child. All parents worry! Her inability to understand the changes made technologically is because she is unwilling to adapt. She doesn’t want to lose her “basic knowledge” and other things that she learned in the past. She wants to preserve what she knows instead of evolving, learning, and expanding her mind in new ways.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Its Not US Its YOU ...

The article written by Sandy Hingston, Is It Just Us, Or Are Kids Getting Really Stupid?, was filled with more opinion than facts. When I read an article or essay that deals with getting down to the understanding why kids may really be dumb nowadays I expect something to back up all the opinionated statements. Hingston starts off her article by mentioning her son Jake and how his English teacher gave the class The Great Gatsby movie to watch instead of the book to read. Personally, when that comes to mind I feel as if it’s the teacher to blame. The teacher doesn’t give enough credit to her students.
When I was in high school I remember being able to watch the movie after we read the book, which at that time was a gift. Now looking back, I’ve realized that being able to read the book was the real gift. I can proudly look back and be grateful to have read a classic in literature. Going back to Hingston’s issue with her son, she seems to be able to criticize easily but makes no effort in encouraging him, at least that’s what I grabbed from the article. What bothered me the most was when she compared her son Jake to most kids. She explains that kids consume themselves with one thing instead of learning all they should. Hingston goes on to critically judge her son and every other kid, saying they could be ‘a better human being’ if they spent their time listening to classical music instead of playing computer games. The main issue I see is with the writer. She constantly throws out her opinions for an important issue without backing anything up; she only uses personal experiences, as if her experiences can relate to everyone else.
One man that brought out an interesting statement was Ian Haines, the Special Education teacher. Haines said, “It’s not only that their attention span is shorter, the feedback span is shorter, too.” We all rely on the computer, cell phones, and other tech fads to get us through the day and because of that our generation has depended upon instant gratification. I have noticed that if it takes too long (more than 7 seconds usually) to load a web page I’m inclined to exit out of it. Naturally, that’s what today is about fast paced give and receive type attitude. I don’t think its that kids are getting dumber, its we lack the patience’s we once had before the dependence of technology. For Hingston to judge a entire generation from a strong judge point is a bit off key. Her generation was the ones that made the computers we are using today and the internet we live off of. It’s faulty to blame us for being deprived of our classic American culture when they the adults, supplied us with the tools they criticize us for using.
Another ludicrous point Hingston brought up was that the internet is an easier way to steal others ideas from artwork to essays. Throughout the course of history, people have always had the tendency to be part of three different group types: those who stole, those who were inspired by others ideas, and those who created. The cycle of people stealing, being inspired and creating will never end. The internet is not to blame and neither are the kids using it, its human nature.
After reading this I could honestly say we can’t really argue for saying kids are dumb and the internet rots our brains, it would be too much of a contradiction. As we right this up we depended on the power of technology to help us conclude our thoughts. I know I have learned a lot from the internet and I believe its not making me less smart, let alone millions of other kids. This tool that we use is something that was placed on our laps to use and explore, if we are being persecuted for that then something is definitely wrong here.

What's With Kids Today? Stupid? Maybe. Ignorant? Yes.

In Philadelphia Magazine, the article “Is It Just Us, Or Are Kids Getting Really Stupid?” I found this subject very controversial on many levels. It’s definitely come across my mind that children of today act much differently than our parents do or even our grandparents. But to automatically assume that kids of today are all getting stupid is being a bit extreme. I do agree with some of the points Sandy Hingston touched upon, but even her opinions were very one sided.

Hingston is saying that today children know less and they have forgotten the basics, but that’s not to say that everyone has forgotten. And who’s to say that adults don’t know the basics as well? Why pinpoint our lack of knowledge only on children. It’s true when people say kids relate more to technology or that when it comes to learning, technology does play a large role. Technology is a part of everyone’s lives now, whether we like it or not. The way we continue to learn, read and create…technology will somehow always play a role because that’s the way our society is heading. Technology is always evolving, always growing and changing. And as exciting as it is to think of the endless possibilities for the way it will flourish, I can’t help but also be concerned for the negative affects it will have on us intellectually and socially.

The fact that this writer’s son is a junior or senior in high school and doesn’t know his multiplication facts or the days of the week is baffling to me. His condition is extreme. Hingston should not be blaming society but rather herself or even her son for his lack of knowledge in subjects that are vital to help you survive in the real world. Hingston also brings up that if her son spent time listening to Mozart or reading Tolstoy he would become “a better human being.” But just because he doesn’t listen to classical musical or read well known literature doesn’t make him an indecent person. There are other ways to better educate yourself: like watching the nightly news, picking up The New York Times, visiting an art museum, watching a play of The Crucible, visiting a planetarium…. Kids shouldn’t be limited to what our parents believe is the right way to be educated, that’s the beauty of growing up in today’s era, the opportunities to expand your mind and explore are reaching new heights.

Hingston almost seems to cringe at the use of Facebook. Not to say that Facebook is always a good use of people’s time. I admit I usually end up on the fb to procrastinate from doing my real work. But Facebook is an important tool in helping find new jobs, connecting with old friends and most importantly, networking. I also find it sad how impatient we all have become. I know I get frustrated when the Internet is down, or when I have to wait on line to buy something, our patience and time span to concentrate has certainly dwindled since technology is now faster than ever.

With any great changes in the world, there are always those who want to challenge it and go against it. Teens and children are always going to rebel and think in a more modern way compared to our parents…that hasn’t changed. What I can’t imagine is how my children or even my grandchildren are going to interact with each other or the way technology is going to play into our lives. What is concerning to me is when my four year old cousin owns her own iPod touch compared to when I was four and was playing with dolls. I agree with Hingston that we should be concerned for what the future may hold, but not be overly fearful. I hope technology does not make us socially inept, rather help us to become greater human beings for the future and beyond. So I wouldn’t say kids today are getting more stupid, but I would say kids today are become more ignorant to the world around them and some are getting so wrapped up in their phones, computers, and iPods that it makes me seriously contemplate what will happen in ten, twenty years from now.

What Do They Know About Us...?

"Is It Just Us, Or Are Kids Getting Really Stupid?" Lets start off by renaming this article "Soccer Mom Makes Generalizations About Our Generation Based On One Conversation With Her Son..." When I was ready to take my fifteen minute break when I was at work, I strolled passed the magazine rack. I had noticed this article because my teacher last semester had mentioned it but I never had the opportunity to read it. I grabbed and had planned on enlightening myself. I feel like growing up all the old cats would rant that the kids are getting dumber but I never would I had thought one of them would be dumb enough to write an article about us and not have any legitimacy.

This women publicizes and airs out her son because they are watching a movie in their Advance Placement class. If you want to make a point about our generation then say we like obscene music say we like odd trends but this lady goes on a 9 paged (give or take) rant about us by using this conversation with her son as her jumping point. You have to be critical of who is writing this before you even begin to read the first word of this article... This is mother of a son who can't remember the days of the week...They don't teach that in high school...That's something you were supposed to teach him has u shuffled him out the door on his first day of elementary school...Then to throw the point out there that she says " You can ask anyone in Philadelphia, do kids seem dumber than they used to be...?" Well for one used to be means You miss all knowing author because before there was us there was you...Secondly you did you bother test anyone else other than your son on a calendar...?
To adress technology, at times it can be used inappropriately and in a way most would not prefer... like facespace and my book and and twimblr (LOL) but it is a new way and innovative way this generation stays connected. Information travels at phenomenal speeds thanks to the internet. If anything the internet has helped connect our world and it's brightest minds to make common knowledge more common. What one child doesn't know...Google can solve... reading has not disappeared from our lives it jus has become easier because a child can summarize a story at the click of a button. I feel like our generation is all about priority. If we see something as necessary we take action to do it. That critical thinking i feel like because then not only are we challenging autority but we are knocking down old walls set up by YOU OLD CATS AND BUILDING GATES TO NEW WAYS OF THINKING.
What the author seems to ignore is that all these things relate back to the Public school system and how it's not doing a good job educating basic knowledge in her community...In order for me to take this article serious I would like for her to sit down and talk to someone my age and ask me some questions about what we know...Not someone 4 times my age. What do they know about us...They just discovered I phones...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where's The Proof About Stupid Kids?

   An article titled Is It Just Us, Or Are Our Kids Getting Really Stupid raises questions and eyebrows. The article claims that with the current surge of technology and supposedly diminishing quality in America's education, our generation is becoming "really stupid". The author of the article makes bold claims that a lot of kids these days can't use rulers, don't know who we fought in WWII, and do not know the days of the week. The fact is that this is simply untrue. Many others have commented on this article with cited proof (the kind of proof this article fails to back itself up with) about how technology actually helps kids learn faster and more efficiently. Merely surfing the web has proven to high the reading and writing skills in students (Source: Jackson, L.A, von Eye, A., & Biocca, F.A. 2003. First Latin American Web Congress), according to one comment. Anyway, there were many issues I had with this article in regards to support, tone, but especially integrity. This may just be me, but I question anyone willing to publicly use their own child as an example to prove their point about these decreasing IQs amongst the young generations. If your child is in high school and having issues memorizing the days of the week, the public education system is probably not the source of the problem. To me, this sounds like a very radical claim from an older generation having problems coming to terms with the changing world. I read this article and get a lot of scary facts, that at a first glance can stir up readers into a panic about how the world effects their children. However in my opinion, the lack of solid evidence robs the author any real credibility.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leadership in Art (and vice versa)

    While I drink my tea I'll respond to an article titled Today's Students Need Leadership Training Like Never Before, by Richard Greenwald. One of Greenwald's ideas within this article that stood out to me in particular was his opinion that colleges succeed in fostering experience and engagement in their students, but seem to fail in preparing students for the microprencurial world (a world where individuals jump from job to job) that we live in today. However, Greenwald refers to the world of big business, finance, and la de da. Thing is, we here at The University of the Arts go a different road. So in respect to those fields, maybe this is so. To me though, UARTs appears to actually strive for student success in this micropencurial world. Whether we would like to admit it or not, as artists most of our careers are going to circle around auditions. We are sea lampreys, we have to be diligent in dropping one gig and quickly finding another one to latch onto. We should be, in order to become successful artists, well trained in job hoping. Without this skill, an artist could never hope to keep a roof over their head. For an art world, there should be very little concern over their graduates chances of survival in a micropencurial world since it is a world we are being train to enter.
     I think one thing that separates then the artist from the working artist can occasionally be leadership. This skills enforced in our classes (and I am being particular to mainly theatrics, but I think the idea still applies) are meant to challenge us to think, be independent, and find answers to our problems. This, along with the barrage of classes those in the college of performing arts have to take, also helps the student learn to prioritize and be prepared for the future. Personally, I am tackling eleven classes and a work study position, and I am thankful for the experience because I have a feeling that a working actor's life will be dependent on how well I juggle my obligations.
     Greenwald's article also mentioned an old axiom that states "leaders are born, not made". This may be true, I'm currently in a program designed to make leaders. I have never personally considered myself a leader, so I do not know if a leadership class can necessarily make me one. On the other hand, I have a feeling colleges and universities would not be investing large sums of money into programs that produced little to no results. Much like acting, there are some great actors who are born great, while there are others born with great potential that only require a bit of direction.
    Maybe it is safe to say that the leaders in our art world are the ones who stand out the most, generally get more work, and as a result can build upon their craft. I have no doubt that the people we see on stage and in the movie theater have harnessed the skills of leadership, These skills, the productivity, the preparation, and the dedication, do make a difference in almost any field and not only the artistic one.
    As an actor in college I tried to find an article that would appeal to my craft and the topic of leadership. In this article, James Heskett discusses how leadership is very similar to theatrics. Leaders are always in the spotlight, they are analyzed and also interpreted. According to Heskett, it is also important for a leader not to get on stage and be something they are not. Just like acting, if your performance is fake, then the audience shuts off. Maybe then leadership is a kind of art in itself. It requires an individual to step up to a level of authority, responsibility over many, influence and positive example. To some this may not sound too special, but it is not something everyone can do. So, with that idea, couldn't leading be a kind of art?
    Unfortunately Ricard Greenwald, I do not have the solution to diminishing leaders in the college atmosphere. Leadership programs, I am sure, help train people who want to be more proactive in the world, but even those classes can only meet a student half way. People have to push themselves and realize on their own whether or not leadership skills would better their work in the future. Perhaps, in most cases, leaders cannot be made, but rather must make themselves.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Leadership 1

Hello, sorry to be posting this late. I couldn't get back to the original link but I found it now. From reading the Commentary on leadership by Richard Greenwald I found it not extremely correct. It is obvious other people have different views on leadership but I felt he was giving the business idea of leadership and not a broad view of all types of leaders. To me it is obvious that it seems the world is low on leaders because true leaders don't need recognition for all of their achievements. Although most of us do want that we don't strive for it. Leaders do something because they know it is right or they know it will help someone or something they are working on.
His idea of training leadership is strange to me. Leadership is not something you can train like soldiers. In real life it takes natural intuition with the right mindset and values for leaders to be accepted and successful. For example if someone who had no natural ability or want as a leader was trained with his idea of skills, they may get out into the real world attempt these practices and fall flat. Human beings know when someone isn't being real or is attempting something scripted in a way and therefore not take them seriously. Of course it may not be that way for every case but it seems more likely.
Although at some university's leadership may not be present take UArts. It takes a lot for any student in this day and age to go to art school especially when the fields are extremely hard to break into and not guaranteed. Most students here are already leaders just by taking the leap of faith that their talent will get them somewhere in the world. In my experience here working on student projects, there are sometimes too many leaders. A good leader in my opinion needs to know when to take a back seat sometimes to avoid conflict with other peers or collaborators but still fight for their own opinions to be heard.
Greenwald talks about defining a leaders values but I think it is more important for a person to define their own values for themselves which could have a bigger impact then just the broad ideas of what a leader could be or could do. Greenwald relates leaders to business programs and politics and the economy. There are many other types of leaders however in my mind then those who work in offices and strive to be political heads. All leaders can not be political and solve the worlds problems all in one shot, especially the economy. Many leaders in my opinion that would be good political leaders don't seem to want to be because the world has changed and there is too much bureaucracy taking over and not fair competition or work ethic.
Greenwald says that leaders "will need to be equipped to make their own opportunities. They need the skills, knowledge, and qualities that leadership programs cultivate: self-reliance, social and cultural capital, appreciation for lifelong learning, creativity, conflict-resolution and team-bulding skills, ethics, and understanding. I feel at an art institution they already instill these type of values in us because we can not just walk into any office an apply for a job when we are done. We need to go out in the world make connections and our own opportunities. I feel Greenwald is not taking into account the broad spectrum of universities and only looking at a small portion of leaders at business schools and other types of colleges with broad majors and focuses.
-Alison Savino

Monday, January 24, 2011

Leadership Response Week 1

I’ve never been one to believe that leadership is a quality/set of skills that can be taught; I always took it to be this intrinsic result of experience, a set of reasonable qualities that could only be achieved through self-awareness. However, this past weekend I had the opportunity to go to a clinic in Indianapolis for Drum Corps International’s 2011 Drum Major Seminar. Sounds geeky huh? Yeah, well it fundamentally changed the way I feel about leadership. Instead of this ambiguous idealistic image of what a “leader” should be, I attended presentation after presentation of what it means to be a DCI drum major. Now, a drum major is just one example of a strong leader and it doesn’t define what a leader is per se, but this weekend has illustrated very clearly to me that being a leader is just another job that simply entails possessing the right set of tools. This is a very similar mindset that the programs and universities Greenwald has researched take on.

Two of the most important qualities of a strong leader are effective listening and clear outward communication. To be able to listen and thoroughly understand what is being said is an underrated (in my opinion) skill of leaders. So many of us focus on the other direction of communication that we forget how to accurately assess a situation or question etc. Instead we’re so busy coming up with a great-looking answer that we lose sight of the problem/question that we set out to solve in the first place. That doesn’t mean that speaking to a mass of people isn’t important because it’s extremely important. To be able to prepare (in however little time we are given) and deliver a message in the most clear and concise fashion is one of a leader’s strongest influencing factors. And what is leadership if not positive influence?

In his article, Greenwald observes that leadership programs in universities such as the class we’re in have been growing in quality, quantity, and perceived credibility and essentially comments that this “leading” generation of young adults has the potential to succeed in more flexible ways than in the past simply because of the broad spectrum that the discipline applies to. Whether it be huge financial corporations under the control of one or a few strong managers, or (more likely for us) freelancing visual and performing artists, the qualities that are being stressed in the programs that Greenwald writes of can realistically benefit all students in all career paths.

Greenwald also states that before effectively training new, young leaders, an institution must first define what it means to be a leader. We’ve all put our two cents in on the matter, so I’ll go ahead and attempt to do so as well. Leadership in my eyes is the process in which a given subject learns and puts into effect efficient communication skills, both listening and speaking; the ability to understand thoroughly and assess the possible outcomes of a given situation; having a network of contacts within a given organization or community that helps spread your influence to a target audience; good intentions (there are strong leaders that have influenced people for terrible deeds, but in this class I’m fairly sure the aim is positive). It’s not a complete or all-inclusive definition but I think it’s a strong start and something I can support whole-heartedly.

Jon Lacy

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Every Day Leaders

        My first reaction to Richard Greenwald's article was very postive. Many things he wrote had certain truths to them that resonated within me. Upon a second reading, several factors based upon my experiences, including the importance of arts, the media, celebrities, and history, helped enhance how I felt about his article and my commentary. Honestly, my reaction the second time reading was very mixed and forced me to think me about how to build leaders and what we as society need to do.

Richard Greenwald wrote that "…leadership-like scientific disciplines, for example-consists of a set of skills, methodologies, and ideas that can be taught." I disagree with this statement. I feel that leadership can't be taught; it simply has to be embraced, engaged, encouraged, and re-enforced. To be a leader, it takes incredible strength, perseverance, creativity, resourcefulness, and charisma. Based upon what I've been through, leadership has to be engaged; one must simply be put into leadership situations in order to learn how to be a leader. As a result, leadership can't be taught. There are too many conflicting methodologies, feelings, ideas, and skills needed that some people have, which makes defining leadership impossible. Moreover, it is human nature to have strengths and weakness. I feel that because we have many strengths and weakness, we must re-enforce those strengths and weakness and build people up and encourage them to be leaders.

I agree with Greenwald when he wrote that "….Not everyone can become a leader". I feel that to be a leader you have to embrace certain realities. These include failure, no sleep, criticism, self-doubt, fear, and frustration. I feel that if you aren't up to working for days to get you to one moment, then you shouldn't be a leader. As harsh as it sounds, that is reality. If you can't stay firm on an issue or you're afraid of rejection or failure, then you can't be an effective leader and lead a group. A part of being leader, in my book, means you have to learn how to fail and fail gracefully and apologize when you make a mistake. If you can do this, people will see your human and don't mind allowing you to lead and take charge when necessary. Also, this statement works in the world of art. Not everyone can be an artist. It really takes a certain person to be an artist; a person who shares many qualities as a leader. Most artist are leaders and pioneers, which brings me to my next point.

Greenwald wrote that "….leadership was not considered a serious discipline by others in a higher education…." and that "….Today's student's are graduating into a world that is much risker that the one we knew…". Art and art education is not considered a major priority in children's education and college education. One of the benefits of UArts is that it is a liberal arts school. In order to prepare students today for the world,  college must help students  be versed in many subject matters, including the arts. Having an arts education allows one to develop early on certain leadership skills that are needed including discipline, decision making, time management, creativity, embracing diversity, respect, collaboration, and etc.  By re-enforcing these ideas and encouraging them as well, we can build up strong leaders and prepare them for the challenges we face today in the world such as the global economy, politics, diversity, war, and other cultures. If the school system can't help with art education, then "….colleges and universities must do the job.." as Greenwald wrote. 

One of the challenges that I see arising with starting leadership programs and encouraging them, is inspiration. Greenwald wrote that "…Students are flocking to these programs because they recognize the importance of leadership in ways that older generations may not". I disagree strongly. Throughout history, each generation has been the same. There were people who take a stance and became leaders, whether they were on opposing sides or not, and those who did nothing. Each generation responds differently to the trials of their time. Howard Zinn presented this in his book Voices of a People's History. This book, which was later turned into a performance piece, has influenced my life. Zinn's mission was to raise awareness and to show everyone that we, everyday people,  can be a leader if you choose to be. The only way, I see anyone being a leader also is through inspiration: you have to constantly be inspired to continue to lead, to fight for what you believe in and be inspired by others around you with their words and beliefs. Greenwald wrote that "….each institution needs to define leadership in a meaningful way….." or "……students will be left with a mash up of courses with conflicting purposes and nothing tying them together…". I fear that if that if this the case, those who want to lead and be leaders, won't have the necessary tools to accomplish what they need to, in order to achieve their goals.
          I think the best way to engage those who want to be leaders, is through the media. I think more knowledge and awareness helps anyone to be whatever they choose to be. If we can increase the presence of arts, by presenting children and even grown adults with leaders , they can be inspired and taught  how to be leader through hearing others speak about their experiences. Greenwald noted how after leaderships programs initially began to emerge, it quickly faded away; all the resources-the journals, articles, books, and etc-disappeared. The one constant is that media and the presences of technology in every home has increased. The best way to learn how to be anything is by listening to those who are seen as leaders-journalists, historians, politicians, and artists-all who shape our opinions, values, and culture. They, as I've learned watching Oprah's new t.v. show "Master Class", will be the first to tell that listening is how you learn and grow.

         If today's students need leadership training, we can't teach. They have to learn for themselves; they have to learn important skills, methodologies, thoughts, and experiences by and for themselves. We, as teachers and leaders, have to simply inspire them to be leaders, encourage them to embrace their communities, environment, and the world and times they live in, encourage them to be leaders and to learn lessons, re-enforce the lessons they learn along the way, and engage them with thought-provoking situations, arts, history, and other leaders. If the schools can't, then colleges have to step up and take a stance and provide clearer programs that encompass principles that I feel help create and make leaders.

Thoughts on Leadership

I guess I never took the time to really think about what leadership meant, or how important it is until I read Richard Greenwald’s article. Greenwald discusses how leadership programs are becoming more popular in colleges and universities all over the country and how now more than ever people need to prepare themselves for the tough times ahead. Personally I’ve never given much thought to the importance of leadership. True, without leaders there would be no order and everyone would be walking around with their heads stuck in the sand. But I’ve never given thought to classes being taught about leadership and how important it is to have the skills of a leader in order to be successful overall.

Leadership can be determined and thought of in many different ways; I really liked what Madeleine said about cultural differences on leadership, how leaders aren’t always deemed as good people. A lot of today’s leaders in our minds are immoral and corrupt, but they are still labeled as leaders because of the position and power they hold. I think everyone deserves the chance to become their own leader. Greenwald says “not everyone can become a leader” which is true. But everyone should be given the option and opportunity to find out. Some people are natural born leaders, others need the right training, hands on experience and support of their peers to feel like a leader.

I’ve never heard of the term “micropreneurial age” but I feel like this perfectly describes the way our generation is today: people today will have several jobs and possibly even multiple careers. The first thing that came to mind when I read that was a couple weeks prior I was in Orlando Florida, Disney World eating at a restaurant. Our waiter was very friendly and he mentioned how he went to UPitt, studying business and finance and how he used to work in New York on Wall Street. But because of the struggling economy, he was unfortunately laid off. This just proves how important it is to prepare as much as we can for what's out there, how we choose to spend the next four years is up to us. Personally I want to take advantage of every opportunity that could help me grow as an artist and as a person.

When people step out into the real world, we don’t know where you’ll end up. Especially as artists, we have to learn how to be flexible in the job market. It’s all about knowing what’s in demand and being able to adapt. If colleges offer leadership programs, it’s obviously not for everyone, but if you do have the opportunity to come across something that could not only better your chances of getting a job but also help you creatively, socially, and economically I say go for it. There is nothing wrong with being too prepared for what life throws at you, and I believe leadership skills are an important way to not only better yourself, but one day be able to help others.

Leadership Training

I am not really sure how to begin a response to such a subject. I have accepted my nomination into a course for leadership without really considering all of the surrounding opinions of having done so. Upon reading this article, I discovered many a discrimination encircling this subject and am confused as to why. It seems to me that the people that are in power are showing concern for their ever-growing lack of ability to properly control and lead this nation and various parts of it. And so, they are attempting to teach various youth certain leadership 'techniques'. This in itself seems like a joke. I agree with the idea that leadership books are nothing more than 'ego exercises for the author'.
However, it is quite untrue that it is an offer of false promises. And anyone can indeed become a leader. It isn't about wanting to take over something however. It is about helping, and stepping in when necessary; understanding the decisions that need to be made and then going through the process of making them. I think there is something left unsaid in this particular article however; is there a limit? Leadership is importance in the guidance it provides, if it becomes a complete take over than it is nothing more than dictatorship. Perhaps this is the fear that keeps people from coming to try to describe leadership; that they might cross the boundary and become something they don't want to be.
The courses, those that are academically based, need to be purely discussion based. It cannot become about the grades or the necessity to lead, or even just one definition of the word 'leadership' and yet, leadership in it's entirety needs to be explored to understand the pros and cons of various types of leading. The world needs to understand a new type of leadership and a new type of understanding in itself. Leadership is indeed something that can be learned, and should be learned, but not necessarily put to use all the time.
Leadership is not a joke, it is a skill. And one worthy of being learned and put to proper use as any individual should choose.

Leadership Entry 1

I have always been the one to hold leadership positions throughout high school and sports teams and musical groups, but I have always had an idea in my head as to how a leader should act, carry themselves, and look. After just the first emerging leaders class and reading Greenwald’s article on leadership it is interesting to see all the different aspects that make someone a leader and how many things there are to learn to become a better leader. I never thought so deep as to all the different types of leaders: self-leader, social and cultural leaders, creative leaders, conflict resolution leaders, team leaders, economic leaders, etc.

Leadership can be compared to working out- It is important to workout for a few reasons: to tone muscles, build strength, and feel good. Working out cannot be something one does once or twice a month. It is necessary to work out everyday to stay on point and in shape, just as it is important to work on being a leader everyday. Being a leader is an all day every day aspect. We need to study about leadership to keep it toned, we need to attend leadership seminars and classes and talk about leadership to build strength, and we need to practice leadership daily in our communities to feel good.

I strongly agree that people are not born as leaders for the same reason as when I first picked up a trumpet I wasn’t able to produce a sound. It is something that takes practice and many years of focus and study. Leadership is something that can always be fine-tuned and it will be ever changing. A true leader is flexible, open to ideas and criticism, and disciplined.

I disagree with Greenwald’s thoughts as to when leadership should be introduced. Leadership is a trait that should be taught to all age groups. If children were introduced to being someone who chooses their own path and set a good example at an age when they were being introduced to sharing and cleaning up after themselves, leadership would be a much more prominent trait in people across the world. It would be great in the future to see significantly less followers in society. I believe strongly that this class will set the tone for me to become a better leader, and also develop the skills to help others to become leaders as well.

Article 1: Whats a Leader?

To construct a program to train the leaders of tomorrow is something I agree with but when you consider what it takes, one must ask what is leadership? This article defines it as such, "like scientific disciplines, for example- consist of a set of skills, methodologies, and ideas that can be taught." On page two of the article though it says that not everyone can be a leader. So then does this mean that every leadership program is flawed? I am aware that there are plenty different kinds of leaders in the world and that everyone has their own style, but what we define as a leader must be a definite thing I would imagine. To me, a leader must hold true to three-core values; consistent, understanding, and extremely motivated to the cause.

A consistent leader is someone who does not waiver on any issues, on any position on an issue, or promises one has made. To me leaders who contradict themselves are people that are indecisive. A leader needs to be able to make decisions and stick to them.

A leader must understand at all times. An insensitive leader is someone that is one minded and doesn’t consider other peoples views. Everyone has something to bring to the table in this world and if a leader doesn’t consider alternatives they can’t call themselves a good leader in my eyes.

A leader that is extremely motivated is a must. If one isn’t willing to do what it takes to get the job done then they are not a leader in my eyes or to be fair less of a leader. If you have to wake up 6 in the morning to get the job done then you should. The cause is why there is a leader so if the leader doesn’t have the motivation to accomplish the task then sooner or later the leader will fail his followers.

These qualities that I perceive as a leader are what I grew up around and saw from my father. You can’t teach these qualities in a program. You can surely tell people about them until they are blue in the face but to truly instill these values into someone’s life is something that takes years not just a few semesters.

Leadership Training: Discussion of Richard Greenwald's Aritcle

I agree with aspects of Richard Greenwald’s article “Today’s Students Need Leadership Training Like Never Before.” He says that more leadership programs, and training are necessary for students to counter our risky world (Greenwald 2). Today’s society requires more self-reliance, and communication, skills that can be taught. To foster better individuals for our society, leadership training is essential. I’m excited about learning more about myself as a leader in the 2011 Emerging Leaders Program. In high school, I was involved in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference; it was a two-day conference focused on issues of diversity and challenged students to explore where they stood on these issues. I’d be interested to see if Uarts could send a few students to the upcoming Philadelphia conference. Students would bring back what they learned from the conference and further implement these skills within the Uarts community.

Like Greenwald notes, all leadership programs should focus on constant self-examination. Our world is always changing and advancing so it’s important to evaluate oneself as a leader so ones skills continue to grow with society. Curriculums should not only focus on gaining public positions at school or in a work setting; curriculums should also focus on “life skills such as introspection, cultural sensitivity…”(Greenwald 1). This self-examination makes all leadership experiences individual and unique, which promotes different leadership styles. Like Madeline noted, there are many types of leaders. Hitler’s Germany is not less valid than our American presidential system; it is just a different way of leading. Finding one’s leadership style is important for personal growth and prosperity.

Because our world is riskier today, necessary leadership skills are significant (Greenwald 2). I can say from my experiences that leadership courses and programs have challenged me to think deeply about my values as well as challenging me to reach the best version of myself. These types of courses are invaluable, and all students should be exposed to some sort of leadership training.

Greenwald says it is the job of colleges and universities to administer adequate leadership training. I disagree; leadership training should begin as early as middle school. I think at the college level it’s too late to be introducing leadership because leadership is not only mastering a set of skills; it’s a self-explorative process. College is a great place to further challenge students about leadership, but our society has the ability to train better leaders if we begin at an earlier stage in student lives.

Greenwald brought up whether true leaders are born or made. Everyone is born with things they are good at, and gain different skills throughout life. Through leadership programs these skills will develop in useful ways. For example, a student with good communication skills can learn the art of public speaking in a leadership course. She already has the knowledge of what it means to communicate, and the leadership training will help her to communicate to a larger audience in an eloquent manner. A student with people skills can learn how to network and bring people together, the same way leaders in public relations do. Everyone has leadership potential; leadership programs will help students hone these skills and teach them how to use what they already know. This does not mean every student will become a leader in the public sense of the word; it will mean that students will have a better knowledge of themselves and will have tools they can use for a lifetime.

Arielle Pina

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Commentary on Leadership

Some initial thoughts:

I think that “leadership” is hard to define because it can be controversial—what one person may see as leadership another might think of as manipulation or usurpation of power. Take an obvious example: pick any dictator in history—Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Castro; their followers considered them leaders, their opposition considered them demagogues. But then again, maybe ‘usurpation of power’ is a definition of leadership as well—why do we necessarily attach a positive connotation to the word? Mao certainly led his country—but led them to what? Starvation, oppression, poverty, and regression. So then “leadership” should be defined differently—not as a position of power but as an act of making progress for an entire group. I’m not sure the author’s definition of leadership was clear—is a leader necessarily someone with the authority to make decisions that influence others or is ‘leadership’ simply a character trait, a personal attribute?

On to Greenwald’s main arguments:

Greenwald mentions that the academic community did not take leadership programs seriously when they first started to appear in colleges and universities. I used to more or less feel the same way: without actually taking the time to look into any of these programs, I thought they sounded elitist and somewhat trite. I also related to Greenwald’s description of these programs as ‘offering a false promise to students’ because to me it seemed like students should be able to learn leadership skills through it’s real-life applications in other classes, in their jobs, or in life in general. People should learn leadership qualities as the need for leadership is presented—as it is in everyday life. In fact, I would say that leadership is so integral to all aspects of life in one way or another that it might be impossible to define the term standing alone. So I thought, what could students possibly learn from a leadership class that is not applied to a specific subject? Especially since leadership requirements vary drastically from situation to situation and from person to person. Thus I’m not surprised that leadership programs were often not taken seriously. On the surface, “leadership” is such a vague term. What is taught in these programs is hard to define, so I can see it being difficult to justify. Further, skills taught in leadership programs are not so concrete—like voltaic cells or World War II— making it hard to measure the programs’ success.

But then I realized that I really haven’t learned all the skills I need to become a leader in my other classes (we certainly learn to follow…hmm, food for thought). I realized that I am too passionate about too many things to simply be a passive observer or follower. I want to have a voice, to have influence to make changes (who doesn’t?)! I want to right wrongs in society that our past and current leaders have instated, continued, or at least acquiesced to maintain. I want to have the power to make progress. After realizing this, I found that the term ‘leadership’ was defined for me in a truly meaningful and personal way. Now I believe that I can take advantage of such a leadership program. As Greenwald argues, leadership should be defined ‘in a meaningful way before it can develop a meaningful curriculum for its students.’

I also agree with Greenwald in that we are entering a riskier world than that of the previous generation. First of all, I believe that government (at least in America but presumably elsewhere too) is becoming both more and more secretive against the public eye, and more and more greedy—politically, economically, diplomatically…or at least it is festering its greed more and more. Thus our need for reform is becoming desperate. New technology is always changing our medium of communication, for good or for bad—and communication is obviously vital to leadership. Further, and maybe most importantly, I believe that misinformation is our society’s biggest problem. New misinformation is spewing out of every media channel while old misinformation is ever more ingrained into our society. Then, we are struggling with overpopulation—which is simply adding strain to every single one of society’s issues. The more people sucked into these issues, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to resolve anything. In other words, the world of the emerging generation is riskier because we have been digging a deeper and deeper hole. Many current leaders are either ignoring or denying problems and thus they are only growing.

So yes, I think our world does need leaders like never before. However, I disagree that the problem is lack of people with the skills of becoming a leader. It’s not so much that leaders are nowhere to be found, it’s that we have successfully set up our society so that the leaders in power have freedom to be corrupt and those with leadership potential are often shunned out of the running because they endanger the job security and reputation of those already in office. It’s like you have to ‘play dirty’ to win power, and you have to make sacrifices that become regressive policies in order to keep your power. In other words, politics always triumphs--even if that means making a bad economical decision or maintaining/instating a corrupt or regressive policy. Economists, scientists, and activists are constantly shushed when what they have to say is not what politicians want to hear. The result is that as individuals we are pummeled with misinformation and as a society we are manipulated. Greenwald touches on the fact that we need self-reliance in order to make our own opportunities; how can we be self-reliant when we don’t have the tools to make informed decisions? Everyone wants to be free; I think students want to learn leadership skills so that they can be.

Week Uno: Greenwald Response

Richard Greenwald’s article describes the importance of leadership skills. He sets the tone by comparing the notion of leadership to scientific discipline. Greenwald sees a distinct correlation of the two, and also a distinct opposition. Both scientific discipline and leadership hold true to skill set and methodologies, but leadership programs focus on the important such as cultural sensitivity and decision-making.

The most interesting point Greenwald raised was how some defined people such as “chief executives, politicians, motivational speakers, baseball managers” as leaders. It is obvious that these type of people may be leaders, but lead for different reasons and advocate for different interest.

Is it safe to agree that all leaders are born and not made leaving leadership academic studies unimportant? I disagree; I would hate to jump the bandwagon and consider that everyone who is not a leader should not learn how to become. Everyone is born into this world with a purpose and at one point or another being the foundation of something will occur.

I find it necessary for everyone to learn how to become a leader through academic studies. It’s important for students growing up in an economy that is trying to recover to learn how to be resilient from their own skill set.

Thankfully, I am part of a school where people are interested in helping their students to further push their leadership skills. I know leading is not the easiest thing to do, but I will learn the best possible ways to do so with the help of Emerging leaders.
- Ashlee Espinal