This is kind of interesting.
In reading and preparing for my lessons this upcoming week on Niccolo Machiavelli‘s rules for a prince or leader, I couldn’t stop thinking about his rules as if that leader was a teacher. Call it whatever critical lens you want, but it was interesting looking at his beliefs about leaders through the eyes of a preservice teacher. Without going into the specifics about what Machiavelli believes (you know, in case my students come across this post) he does offer some interesting questions about what a leader – er, rather, a teacher if you’re using this lens – should do and how he or she should act.
If you aren’t familiar with Machiavelli, he lived during the late 1400s and early 1500s. Living during the Renaissance, he was quite the humanist. He also held some power in Italian politics. His party (used loosely in comparison to contemporary American politics) eventually lost power in Italy and he was arrested, tortured and banished – and, of course, left without any political influence. Because of this, he ended up writing The Prince, in which he outlines, through personal mental struggle, how leaders should act in power. It’s a really interesting read, but using my “Educator Lens” I couldn’t help but apply his beliefs to the so-called leader of the classroom, a teacher.
Here are some of those characteristics and roles of a leader, as suggested by Machiavelli, to think about:
- Should a leader (teacher) do powerful and influential things that are virtuous but detrimental to personal well-being?
- Should a leader (teacher) do weak and unchallenging things that will bring about security and positive well-being?
- Is it better to be loved than to be feared, or the reverse?
- Should a leader (teacher) be tough in order to succeed but be disliked by many?
- Should a leader (teacher) be passive in order to be well liked but have his or her country (classroom) fail and be susceptible to attack?
I know where Machiavelli stands. Well, not in terms of a teacher exactly. But I think these questions work well in an adapted format. I’m not entirely sure where I would stand. Too bad finding the perfect mix isn’t easy.