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Responsibilities make learners better leaders

By Antoney Luvinzu | May 31st 2021
Starehe Boys’ Centre students Alex Murimi (Right) and Stanley Nzioka conduct an experiment in one of the school’s renovated biology laboratory. [Courtesy]

I am working on my school’s year book. A usually demanding endeavour that entails gathering and compiling text and photos from a wide spectrum of stakeholders within the school community.

And it can be daunting if you choose to go it alone, or try to micro-manage everything. So I decided to settle on two students to help me run the show. I instructed them to pick a team of four or five students to form the editorial team. They did, and the whole thing took off like a rocket jutting through the sky.

Which got me thinking about the whole idea of entrusting learners with responsibilities, giving them the latitude to express their talents and aptitudes, letting them run the show as you merely guide them on the background.

Let me put this into perspective.

Leadership comes with responsibilities. Communication, delegation, decision making, providing feedback, taking responsibility, motivation and commitment are vital responsible aspects in leadership. Good leaders are open-minded, committed and goal driven. They respect everyone’s opinion and are trustworthy, confident and calm.

Developing leadership skills at school benefits students in several ways. When applying to universities, the experience of having had an active role in the school community will also strengthen their application.

Through leading a group, students learn how to resolve conflicts, prioritize, manage their time and manage resources while exhibiting confidence and urgency.

Another area where leadership can be built is through the Drama Club, particularly the behind-the-scenes roles, such as stage management. In the build up to a performance, and notably during show times, students in role-plays have to think on their feet and act quickly and decisively to solve problems in real time.

Other obvious areas for leadership are captaining a sports team, or being a house captain. These activities not only promote positive spirit and collaboration within school but also expose the leaders to the challenges of directing a sizeable group of people and getting them to collaborate towards a common goal.

Entrusting students with responsibilities may help unleash their potential. Classroom activities such as working on a science project and leading a team while taking part in general knowledge puzzles will aid in the alignment of the students with responsibilities and ultimately hone their skills and ultimately behaviour.

Organising sporting events, concerts and stage shows are activities for students that also help develop a sense of responsibility.  Through such they take on leadership roles that supports their development and provides them with experience that will come handy in their daily lives. Schools that understand the value of leadership as part of a balanced education will offer chance for student of all ages to gain experience in a safe and nurturing environment with adult support, guidance and mentorship.

Even though the positions of leadership and responsibility in schools cannot be easily entrusted to all students, it also has its pros and is worth the risk. It’s important for majority if not all students to experience such opportunities during their schooling, to learn the art of building relationships within teams. 

A student who is entrusted with responsibilities and has acquired the skills and attitudes will undoubtedly execute a task without teacher or parental assistance.

The long and short of it is that by all means allow children to be responsible for something, let them run the show in some instances. Let them experience the losses, the triumphs, the disappointments and satisfactions and sense of purpose. This will grow them tremendously.


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