Leading the pack vs. Being a pack leader

respectEd reformers are determined to test, rate, and sort children to identify and reward students who lead the pack rather than nurture, respect, and support students to cultivate pack leaders.

This misguided obsession on evaluating and comparing students will leave our children unprepared for the social and emotional “tests” of adulthood and employment.

“Imagine two wolf packs, or two human tribes,” Mr. McIntyre said. “Which is more likely to survive and reproduce? The one whose members are more cooperative, more sharing, less violent with one another; or the group whose members are beating each other up and competing with one another?”…

This does not mean that alpha males are not tough when they need to be. One famous wolf in Yellowstone whose radio collar number, 21, became his name, was considered a “super wolf” by the people who closely observed the arc of his life.

He was fierce in defense of family and apparently never lost a fight with a rival pack. Yet within his own pack, one of his favorite things was to wrestle with little pups…

One year, a pup was a bit sickly. The other pups seemed to be afraid of him and wouldn’t play with him. Once, after delivering food for the small pups, 21 stood looking around for something.

Soon he started wagging his tail. He’d been looking for the sickly little pup, and he just went over to hang out with him for a while.

Of all Mr. McIntyre’s stories about the super wolf, that’s his favorite. Strength impresses us. But kindness is what we remember best…

Doug Smith, the biologist who is the project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, said the females “do most of the decision making” for the pack, including where to travel, when to rest and when to hunt. The matriarch’s personality can set the tone for the whole pack, Dr. Smith said.”

“Tapping Your Inner Wolf”, Carl Safina 6/5/15 

Education reforms are mistakenly focused on measuring how students compare to each other instead of providing diverse opportunities and experiences for students to practice and learn how to care for others.quote-Daniel-H.-Pink-empathy-is-about-standing-in-someone-elses-207223

Increasingly it seems that many reformers simply don’t care to listen and learn from people who have different perspectives and views regarding the purpose of education. People must first learn to care, if they are going to care to learn.


Ensuring that children are college and career ready begins with activities and experiences that help students learn to be compassionate and caring ready.

Empathy is not just important in the classroom. The ability to empathize in the workplace has a direct impact on performance and the ability to lead and inspire others.

“…For nearly 20 years I’ve been studying, consulting and collaborating with organizations around the world to learn more about the costs of this incivility.

How we treat one another at work matters. Insensitive interactions have a way of whittling away at people’s health, performance and souls…

Incivility shuts people down in other ways, too. Employees contribute less and lose their conviction, whether because of a boss saying, “If I wanted to know what you thought, I’d ask you,” or screaming at an employee who overlooks a typo in an internal memo…

Technology distracts us. We’re wired to our smartphones. It’s increasingly challenging to be present and to listen. It’s tempting to fire off texts and emails during meetings; to surf the Internet while on conference calls or in classes; and, for some, to play games rather than tune in…

Civility elicits perceptions of warmth and competence…These impressions dictate whether people will trust you, build relationships with you, follow you and support you…

Leaders can use simple rules to win the hearts and minds of their people — with huge returns. Making small adjustments such as listening, smiling, sharing and thanking others more often can have a huge impact…

What about the jerks who seem to succeed despite being rude and thoughtless? Those people have succeeded despite their incivility, not because of it… the No. 1 characteristic associated with an executive’s failure is an insensitive, abrasive or bullying style…

Given the enormous cost of incivility, it should not be ignored. We all need to reconsider our behavior. You are always in front of some jury.

In every interaction, you have a choice: Do you want to lift people up or hold them down?”

“No Time to Be Nice at Work”, Christine Porath 6/19/15


“And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart”

~ Rush, “Closer to the Heart”


1 thought on “Leading the pack vs. Being a pack leader

  1. I’m a loving educator whose heart is not only for our students; and by saying “our” I am meaning that students belong to all of us as we work together as teachers loving and nurturing them. My goal each year is to build caring citizens of our school, for their family’s and eventually taking their place in this world as caring individuals. My unique plan for my students to become “college & career ready” depends on their “ripeness” when it comes to their interactions with their classmates, teachers, custodians, cafetaria staff, maintenance workers and any other school staff as this is their foundation they build on first and foremost. If my students don’t know how to appropriately treat the school-world first, how will they ever know how to treat the work-world? From first learning kindness, patience and flexibility towards classmates, teachers and school personel, along with rules, expectations and procedures, my students are ready to begin activities and experiences that will take to the right road of success. A large red heart that I made out of construction paper and lamination with the words, “Be good to each other’s heart” hangs at the front of my classroom every year reminding each of my students of their importance as individuals; individuals with feelings, with great ideas and with trust for my belief in them. You want vigor in your stuents, not rigor in its terminology. Rigor scares, chases people away and threatens, but vigor believes, hopes, trusts and brings your students towards success that cares about everyone.

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