Enough with leadership already

This Alvin Chang piece in Vox on all the ways the college subtly discriminate against poor students is terrific.  You should read it.  Short version: the values that poorer kids learn are a mismatch for the values of wealthier kids and the values of what are expected by college faculty and administrators.

Lots, can be said about this article, but I’m going to be lame and stick to an almost tangential point.  What is with college’s obsession with “leadership”?!  Here’s a chart of what college administrators think are the most important skills for students:

Really.  It is more important that our students learn to be a leader than to solve problems?  Or do independent research?  Or work together with others?  Give me a break!  Sure there are some leadership skills that are helpful to people, but clearly, not everybody is a leader, and clearly, you can be a very successful college graduate without having significant leadership skills.  Far less so, if you haven’t learned problem-solving and working with others.

I would argue that my own “leadership skills” are pretty modest at best (in fact, I was just joking around with my soccer team about this last night), but clearly I’ve done alright for myself in life.  You know what really helped?  Problem solving skills, working with others, research skills, etc.  Of course, leadership plays an important role in our society, but I think there’s some interesting research to be done on college’s disproportionate emphasis on the value of leadership.

Oh, and just a reminder, think about reading the piece for all the excellent stuff in there that has nothing to do with what I just wrote about.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Enough with leadership already

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Colleges exist to socialize the ruling class. That takes leadership.

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