Leadership ‘Behaviour’ in the ‘Freedom Writers’

Leadership is an extremely complex topic with many definitions and many approaches. For the sake of this post we will explore leadership as defined by Joseph. C. Rost (1993):

“Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes” (Rost 1993 cited in Daft 2011:5).

We will look at the film ‘Freedom Writers’ with this leadership lens. Freedom Writer’s is a film based on a true story about Erin Gruwell, a first time teacher who is assigned to a class of underperforming students who have experienced racial and gang violence all their lives. The story is based in Long Beach, California in 1994. At this time Long Beach California had a high rate of gang violence, and Woodrow Wilson High School implemented a voluntary integration program.

We will focus on the leadership behaviour of the teacher Erin Gruwell. Among the many leadership approaches we can focus on, we will look at transformational leadership because Erin can be seen as a transformational leader, because by the end of the movie, she transformed the performance of her students completely. We analyse this in more depth below. However, prior to that we need to understand what transformational leadership is. According to a definition by Northouse (2013):

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Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

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There is no other way to solve human problems other than with loving-kindness and compassion

I wanted to share this video because I’m relieved that someone is speaking out. Let’s not let another 30 years of destruction and grief be repeated again. Let’s work together to stop this conflict before it escalates. Let’s not let the paradise that is Sri Lanka be turned into hell.

“We should be alarmed if our society is moving towards another conflict again… we can blame our foregone generation for the last war. But, if the same thing repeats, it is a sign of our failure. It is our responsibility to prevent such a thing from happening again” – Ven Dhammananda, Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya.

A reply to a wonderful stranger

This morning, I read an inspiring comment by someone who happened to come across my blog. And I was inspired (the comment can be viewed on ‘who is Natasha?’). I’m sharing my reply with you too…

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an inspiring comment on my blog. I truly appreciate it. Also, thank you for taking the time to look at my blog. I’m so inspired by you that even though you are bed-ridden you are planning on starting a blog. Please give my your blog address once you start it, I would love to follow. And I’m also inspired by you that you use your time to acquire new knowledge and learn about different cultures and nations. You are absolutely right, children in the west are so occupied by their gadgets. Sadly, it’s not far from the same in my country. A few years back when I was a child, we didn’t have iPods or play stations, we would play outside and embrace the wonder of nature and discover new things everyday. At 5pm everyday the streets are filled with the noise of kids playing. Today, there is not a hum on the streets. All kids are inside watching tv or playing with their gadgets. I think it’s partly the fault of parents. On the other hand, even teenagers and young adults are too busy on their phones to look around and read the papers, maybe, and know what’s happening around them, and in the world. It’s sad to see how ignorant the youth are today. The future is ours, and we need to actively take part in making the world a better place not only for us, but for the generation after us. If we ignore what’s going on in our countries, what will we leave behind for our children and their children? I guess the reason I want to be a journalist is because I can’t close my eyes to things that are happening, especially in my country, and the only way I know how to make a difference is by writing about it or making documentaries about it, in the hope of opening the eyes, ears, mouths and hearts of those who behold my work. So, I start from my blog,until one day I’m hired by a news company to do it on a larger scale. Again, thank you for your response. And I’m looking forward to reading your blog in the future

“Everyone is watching you!”

from www.tumblr.com
from http://www.tumblr.com

Today someone said to me: “the world is watching you…”, referring to Sri Lanka… And I was stumped for words. What I realised is that whatever a small minority of the population does reflects on all Sri Lankans, whether it’s good or bad. In this instance I’m talking about a small group of Buddhist extremists who are claiming to be the true Sri Lankan’s and are fighting to abolish the halal system in the country.

We may not agree with them, but as long as we stay silent and not do our part in standing against it, and standing for the unity and beliefs of every ethnic and religious group that makes Sri Lanka as special as it is, to the rest of the world it seems like we agree with it. So here I am, doing my part in the smallest way I can to share the message that this is not what Sri Lanka is.

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When will the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be truly universal?

A friend shared this video on Facebook and I thought of sharing it and adding to my previous post about women’s rights being violated in the name of culture. I should add that it’s quite evident from this video that it’s not just women’s rights that are being violated.

Article 16 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: “(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.”

It very clearly states: “men and women of FULL AGE”… This girl is just 12, she is barely a teenager, I think it’s absolutely unacceptable that this child should be deprived of her childhood and her education and be given responsibility as a wife. At the same time I think she is incredibly brave to come forward and speak about her predicament on television. I was heart-broken when she said the only thing left is for her to commit suicide if she doesn’t get the divorce. I hope that she will be guided and counselled and that the law of Yemen would grant her the right to get divorced.

In the end, what we can gather from this is that the UDHR will never be truly universal until all countries absolutely ratify to it, regardless of their religious and cultural traditions. I hope that day will come soon.

Cultural Rights Vs. Women’s Rights: How do we strike a balance?

Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net
Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net

This is a paper I wrote for one of my modules last term for MA International Politics and Human Rights, I enjoyed researching for it and writing it so much that I think it will be a waste not to share it with you. Here is a shortened version of it, hope you like it and your comments are deeply appreciated: 

 

In an ideal world all human beings will be treated equally, regardless of their gender or ethnicity. In fact, article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” However in reality this is not practiced. The universality of human rights, especially when it comes to women’s rights, is lost in the realm of cultural relativism. Drawing from Bunch’s (1990) observation that gender related abuses have been most neglected, I believe that cultural and religious group rights are given more recognition than women’s rights. In this essay I will set forth various theoretical claims and practical cases to argue my point that in reality cultural rights are given a higher grounding than women’s rights, specifically in the Middle East and Asia, but also in Africa and in some cases in the West. I will also look at various approaches that may help in rectifying these challenges.

Before I discuss the challenges I will look at the background of both cultural and religious groups rights and women’s rights. Will Kymlicka (1995) lays down two different kinds of group rights. The first is minority rights that protects the interests of their members and secondly rights which impose restrictions on its members, such as some cultural groups that set prohibitions and regulations on women. Kymlicka supports the first kind of rights but regards the second kind as “difficult” (cited in Anthias 2002: 280). It is one of those situations that whatever approach you choose to support there is always a negative aspect to it. If you oppose the second kind of rights you are demeaning the autonomy of a culture: “rejecting the cultural rules of a minority” (Anthias 2002:280). However if you ignore that these cultural impositions are abusing individual human rights then where does that make you stand? For instance, if you ignore the very brutal practice of female genital mutilation just because it is a cultural practice, does not that make you as ignorant as those practicing it? I will dwell on this further when I discuss how the human rights of women are abused in the name of culture.

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UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador Training: Day 4: Building Peace on Common Ground

One of the main learnings of today was the importance of finding common ground to promote peace.

Dolapo Fakuade, UNESCO Looking Beyond Disaster & Peace Ambassador emphasised that an important factor for peace is finding common interests, this is what brings us together. At most instances people tend to look at the negative, focusing on differences rather establishing what we have in common.

Dolapo gave us an excellent example of how mutual understanding created a truce which has been on for the past 10 years among two Yoruba Tribes in the Western part of Nigeria.

The Ife-Modakeke conflict which was going on for more than a century was devastating not only for the tribes but to anyone who tried to cross the area. People were killed, schools closed and inter-married families were broken.

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Spectacle

Media Project: Book

Mayada, Daughter Of Iraq: One Woman’s Survival Under Saddam Hussein

The book I have chosen to discuss for this part of the assignment is a true story about a true daughter of Iraq, Mayada Al-Askari. She was a self-reliant single mother who owned her print shop, which led to her been arrested by the government of Saddam Hussein.

She is a descendant of one of the most prestigious and honoured families in Iraq. However even her family’s well established connections didn’t keep her away from the prison’s of Saddam Hussein. One grandfather fought along side Lawrence of Arabia, the other was recognized as the first true Arab nationalist, her uncle was Iraq’s Prime Minister for 40 years and her mother was a high government official.

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