Where are true leaders made? Can leaders be shaped in classes through a curriculum? If yes, at what age and point is this intervention necessary? When institutions themselves practice unethical behaviour, could they promote ethical leadership among their students?
These were some of the talking points that a panel of eminent educationists and industrialists pondered over at the ThinkEdu conclave here on Friday, churning out a divided verdict. But all of them, without exception, stressed on the need for promoting leadership and ethics at the institutional level.
Chairing the panel, IIM-Kozhikode Director Debashis Chatterjee said the topic, which questions whether institutions teach ethics or leadership, has an underlying assumption that the two could be taught in classrooms. “By covering a syllabus, you certainly do not discover a leader. Leadership has to be discovered not in the classroom but in the field of practice,” he pointed out.
Gowri Ishawaran, CEO of Global Education and Leadership Foundation, said that whenever there is a talk about teaching leadership, there is invariably an overemphasis on such inculcation at the higher education level. This is inherently flawed as any successful intervention has to be made early in life at the primary education level rather than in colleges. “We see that there is hardly any teaching of what is ethical at the school level. By the time the student gets to college, such education is a tad too late,” she observed.
VIT University Chancellor G Viswanathan pointed out that his institution has been one of the few exceptions which has ethics as a compulsory subject. While ideally leadership should come from inspiration, he said such a scenario does not exist in the present state. “Issues such as tax evasion are not even considered as unethical as it is so pervasive. For this to change, students should be guided on what to do and what not to do,” he said.