The Garden of Leaders
explores two related questions: What is leadership? And what sort of education could prepare young people to be leaders? Paul Woodruff argues that higher education--particularly but not exclusively in the liberal arts--should set its main focus on cultivating leadership in students. Woodruff advances a new view of liberal arts education that places leadership at the root of everything it does, so that students will be prepared to lead in their lives and careers--and not necessarily in management roles. Woodruff views the contemporary university as sorely lacking an emphasis on leadership, and presents three core sets of recommendations for how they can and should foster it. First, Woodruff posits co-curricular groups, activities, and projects as essential activities for students to gain confidence and leadership skills. Administrations should encourage students to engage in activities outside the classroom, convert coached sports teams into student-led clubs as far as possible, and discourage social organizations that are segregated by race or sex. Second, Woodruff advocates for a different curriculum for all undergraduates, no matter their major-arguing that they need to be taught leadership in the forms of key skills including communication (including good writing, listening, and speaking), as well as exposure to key material in history literature, social science, and ethics. Students should be asked to consider the hardest ethical dilemmas that leaders face, toggling between Machiavelli and great ethical thinkers such as Confucius and Socrates. Third, Woodruff calls for the teaching methods used by instructors to re-orient themselves around the question of leadership, particularly by emphasizing teamwork. Professors should respect their students' independence, avoid tyrannical teaching, and remember that all teachers teach ethics simply by the examples they set in dealing with students. Whether in engineering, music, or classics, The Garden of Leaders
advances leadership as a core value that should be at the heart of the educational enterprise-contending that while a college campus can be many things, it should at the very least be a ground upon which new leaders can grow.
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