Recently, I came upon a wonderful little book that has been useful in my gallery teaching. It is called The Tao of Leadership. Its author is John Heider. When this book was first recommended to me, I did not make the connection between leadership and teaching. After reading the text, however, its relevance to teaching seemed unmistakable and most thought-provoking.
Since creativity is reliant, at least in part, on making new connections, I thought this text might be applicable to The Docent Educator issue on “Creativity and Innovation.” It is my hope that others who enjoy, The Docent Educator as much as I do might also find reading this text as interesting and helpful as I have.
Mr. Heider adapted and edited the work of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. In his forward to the book, Mr. Heider writes, “Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is one of China’s best loved books of wisdom. It was originally addressed to the sage and to the wise political ruler of the fifth century, B.C. It comes down to us as a classic of world literature, and many of Lao Tzu’s sayings will be familiar to you. For example: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’
“As a teacher, I have found the Tao Te Ching an indispensable text… students like it. It is simple and it makes sense.”
Personally, I have found this book to be inspirational and a source of new connections to better teaching philosophies and methodologies. For instance, consider the applicability of the following — “Why is the ocean the greatest body of water? Because it lies below all the rivers and streams and is open to them all.
“What we call leadership consists mainly of knowing how to follow. The wise leader stays in the background and facilitates other people’s process. The greatest things the leader does go largely unnoticed. Because the leader does not push or shape or manipulate, there is no resentment or resistance.
“Group members genuinely appreciate a leader who facilitates their lives rather than promoting some personal agenda. Because the leader is open, any issue can be raised. Because the leader has no position to defend and shows no favoritism, no one feels slighted; no one wishes to quarrel.”
Lori Prystowsky, docent and classroom teacher, Rockville, Maryland
Prystowsky, Lori. “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas.,” The Docent Educator 6.2 (Winter 1996-97): 11.