When I had to defend my thesis, which revolved around the collaboration and cooperation process in leadership development in education (yes, thesis titles are always long….and there was definitely a colon in there somewhere to make it even smarter:), I did a small experiment in my presentation (there were about 20 people present). I was speaking about chaos theory, and nonlinear systems in regard to problem solving…and I presented the puzzle (diagram above) and let the class try to figure it out. Most had trouble, and when I feigned not remembering how to figure it out, and asked the class for help, a couple stepped forth and the rest sat in great discomfort thinking that I had a “failed moment”. Afterwards, I explained my reasoning to my students: how much does education rely on teachers having all the right answers? The starting point for the measurement of any system of movement (the progression in education) depends on the initial conditions of that system. When the initial condition of a lesson is that the student has to rely on figuring out the answer with the help of the class and not the teacher…the trajectory of learning is quite different than if the teacher just gave the answer and the student wrote it down on a piece of paper. The point of the lesson is that initial condition of having no answer took students down a very different road than the one where a student is presented answers and learns by rote. The actual system, (student) transforms into something so much greater.
In my presentation, (which I got a stellar grade for, imagine a theologian that can utilize chaos theory!!!!) I was desperate to make the point that the best leaders are the ones who learn to depend on themselves to not only learn to solve problems collaboratively, but to do so by thinking out of the box. Leaders are never born from getting all the right answers, they are born from the frustration of finding an answer that is new and reflective of an ever changing world….and in so doing we will always continue to transform.