Leadership, Passion, Cootie Catchers and Flexible Thinking

What happens when those four collide? Thanks to two boys in grade three who approached me last Monday, I can now answer that.

It was recess and I was working at my desk. These two entered my office with something they clearly wanted to say. Trouble is, some things are hard to articulate, especially when you’re eight. Eventually deducing they wanted to do a leadership project, they hadn’t yet thought of what that project would look like. I encouraged them to start from a personal talent or passion, and out came this: “You know”, said one, “I’m really good at making Cootie Catchers. I’m probably the best in the school. I make the biggest in the school, that’s for sure.”

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Now, you are asking, “What does making Cootie Catchers have to do with leadership?” “How could they make a difference in the world?”

That’s where flexible thinking came in.

We struggled for a bit. It was clearly a new conundrum for all three of us. Where could these popular little games help? Well, they clearly help develop fine motor skill and strength – that’s important in grade one. Maybe they could be made to help practise basic academic skills too? Some trial and error later, we had defined a leadership project that has real value and that the boys have embraced with zeal. Dozens of different Cootie Catchers are being created to practise basic addition in grade one. Students will be given questions, the answer will be found, and the reward, a selection of smelly stickers, will be hidden in the heart of the Cootie Catcher.

I’ve no doubt this will be a hit with the grade ones. The beauty of these projects, however, is what they do for the budding leaders. The boys may not choose to stick with Cootie Catchers as their main contribution to the world. However, they have started a path with leadership, passion and flexible thinking that they would do well to continue on throughout life.

And who knows, maybe the humble Cootie Catcher should have a big future. It’s at least good to know that these boys will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of ways to make a difference.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

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