Leadership: Becoming the change we seek

There is a change in me this year. I have been doing what love for four years. Now I’m doing what I’m meant to.

I didn’t freak out when I first learned that I will be both batch adviser (2011) and club adviser (AKSIS) this year. I rejoiced. While I enjoyed teaching, I felt that a large part of me was underused. I wanted to lead. I wanted to empower people. I wanted to inspire change.

While I could do that as a teacher, what I lacked then was the right scope and mandate to create lasting change in the immediate time and space around me. It was that part of me who birthed ideas such as Bushido, Asian Spirits, Pisay Meets World, Tianxiaverse Project, Wu Wei X and the History Book Project. All were ideas — equal part success and failure — that dared to push the boundaries of what I could do given where I was. But they all had a glass ceiling.

Being bound by one school year per batch, I could not look towards farther horizons. Thus, neither could my students. My projects, while innovative in their own time, were bound by the year we were given. Best case would be The History Book Project: my students’ stories do not end in second year. I wonder what it would be like if they could continue it (sans the laborious journal writing), and the final story they produce results in a companion volume to their yearbook. I have similar feelings about Pisay Meets World. While lauded as a success from all corners, I alone felt its failings: that after my students learned to use the Internet as a social tool, no further engagement resulted from there.

Soon I recognized that these weaknesses are not mine alone. I seek consistency, continuity and coherence in the paradigm shifts I wish to introduce. While I can have that in me — a part of me will always strive to be an innovative teacher — whether my students have that as well is a matter of whether our institution allows us to. After all, we are working in a rules-based order that reinforces its own culture, standards and practices. Ironically, rules provide their own consistency, continuity and coherence — they just don’t happen to be mine. Therefore, change can only be brought about by working within that order, and inspiring change we seek by working in between the cracks.


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