The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, once wrote that “the price of choosing not to be involved in politics is that you are ruled by your inferiors.” Welcome to Community Leadership!
Before we do anything else in this course, I would like you to sit down and “free write” for 5 minutes. Free writing is a process that professional writers often use to get themselves started or to get over a writer’s block or… just because. The way it works is that you set a time limit (5 minutes is good; 10 minutes if you’re really stuck) and sit at the keyboard or with a pad of paper and write without stopping until the time is up. You put down whatever comes to mind; if nothing comes, just write over and over “I can’t think of a thing. I’m so bored. This is ridiculous. There has to be something I can say about this…” The idea is just to keep writing, to allow associations to arise freely, without worrying about structure, spelling & punctuation, or even if it makes sense. When the time is up, read through what you wrote. Most of it will be garbage. But there will be one (or, if you are really lucky, two) good idea, one morsel that is really worth pursuing—and perhaps even some other pieces that support the first. That one idea is what you were looking for—one really good idea that will be worth the time and effort that it will take to develop it into a worthwhile essay.
So, right now, for 5 minutes, free write about this question: “What is ‘leadership,’ and is there any difference between other types of leadership and leadership in the community?” After you have done that, distill the one potentially useful idea.
I have a set of tips that I share with all my general education students. They include some tips for working together with your classmates or other groups, some tips for writing, and some tips for studying.
This class has three key elements: writing, service learning, and leadership concepts.
Finally, I began with the Greeks; let’s end with them also. Whatever the solution we come to in this new century, we will be continuing a tradition enunciated (but initiated long before) by the Athenians in 400 BC. This is the oath of citizenship that they gave to each other:
“We will ever strive for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many.
“We will unceasingly seek to quicken the sense of public duty….
“We will leave this city not only not less, but greater, better, and more beautiful than it was given to us.”
© 2002 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 26 April 2010