ART BY SAMANTHA PARRA
By CHRISTINA QUACH
I find it funny how we are suddenly expected to just begin doing everything ourselves, with no help at all, when we enter high school. Not only that, but we are expected to suddenly develop leadership skills, as if it goes hand in hand with puberty.
The real question is: how do we develop these anticipated leadership skills, if no one is teaching us? Despite the fact that there are some students who seem to naturally adapt and evolve into leaders, there are many others who are too shy, too lazy or simply too inexperienced to become a leader.
Schools need to realize that they should encourage students to become leaders at a younger age, preferably in elementary or middle school. It is unreasonable for students to be given huge amounts of responsibility and told to “just figure it out yourself.”
For example, students are expected to balance rigorous academic coursework with time-consuming extracurriculars, including numerous clubs and sports. While many of these expectations are not explicitly stated, it is “highly recommended” by colleges themselves.
However, what colleges do not realize is that without a helping hand or any prior experience, it is difficult to naturally assume a leadership role.
The most prominent reason as to why many students find it hard to become leaders is because they lack exposure to leadership. Because high school is the time when individuals often develop their personality, many students unfamiliar with being leaders. Children tend to be quick to absorb new information and to mimic others. As a result, if they were exposed to more leadership opportunities early on, students will become more accustomed in taking action.
Furthermore, encouraging leadership at a younger age allows room for the student to make mistakes and learn from them when they are younger. In high school, students are under constant scrutiny, with the fear of making an irreversible mistake. Hypothetically speaking, if someone made a club and had no experience in leading it —resulting to the demolition of the club— the person rarely ever has a second chance. They become too intimidated to try again. Meanwhile, if this were to happen in middle school, the student may be intimidated initially, but they will have more time for growth, trial and error.
Moreover, if all grade level schools— elementary school, middle school and high school—were to encourage leadership at younger ages, they would not only be able to develop more leaders, but also develop skilled leaders—ones who are compassionate, listen well and are confident in not only themselves, but in the people they are leading as well. Because of the numerous trials and errors that students will have faced, by the time they reach high school, they will already be familiar with being a leader and have more time for growth.
In conclusion, schools can not anticipate their entire student body to be skilled leaders. It is a practice that is rarely innate and gradually developed over time.