Friday, April 25, 2008

Leadership: Morality and the Mundane

I believe good leaders are moral leaders. I've said, "morality is the root of education." What do I mean by that? Abraham Maslow is a famous pyschologist, whose hierarchy of needs is studied by teachers. Maslow said, "Education must be seen as at least partially an effort to produce the good human being, to foster the good life and the good society."

One can define morality many ways, but I think, "being a good human," is simple and direct.

We should educate our children as though a future President of the United States will come from our schools. We can develop the best leaders in America right here in Plano.

Besides morality, there are mundane aspects to preparing for leadership. Good speaking skills, good speech writing skills, and good debating skills are important for leadership. Plano students have done well in speech and debate contests.

The Roman historian Tacitus, in his "Dialogue on Oratory," expressed a belief in a connection between good oratory and liberty. Speech seems mundane, but it is not. Writing a good speech is difficult.

I believe there is room for a course in Advanced Speech, where great speeches are studied, where the careers and work of presidential speech writers are studied. Have you noticed that if you become a presidential speech writer then you are set for life?

One thing we can do immediately is to pay more attention to the success our children have in speech and debate contests. I think we packed our side of Texas Stadium for our football game against Trinity Euless, but who knows when Plano last won a speech or debate contest? We need to care more about the non-athletic activities. And our children deserve good publicity whenever they succeed.

But to return to the mundane, we have to remember that connections are very important in politics. We should have a committee in Plano that understands what it takes to become a Rhodes Scholar and start grooming students while they are in high school to compete for this honor. A Marshall Scholarship is also available. The Fullbright Scholarship/Grant is not just to being foreign students here, it also sends U.S. students overseas. These are all for post-graduate study, but it can help to understand these programs when you start college so you can aim for them.

We can establish Plano networks for local grads to connect with grads from every college anyone in Plano has attended. Connections are important, we should foster more connectivity.

Sending a Plano grad to the White House is not pie-in-the-sky. We really can do it by developing leaders with good character, with a profound understanding of history, with good speaking and writing skills, and with the best connections we can help them foster.

Let's work together for a great future for our children.

Robert Canright

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