great leaders empower, great administrators enforce

The Dept potluck was an enjoyable event. Lots of food (too much, really), some snatches of decent conversation, and my chocolate gateau was dubbed an example of ‘now, that’s how cakes should be baked’. I just wish everyone could have been there – instead, those who had classes during the do had to feast separately later. But I guess that’s preferable to pushing it to 4 in the afternoon when our spirits are willing but our apetites are weak. Also, I finally nailed down an obs date with DP – boy, that’s gonna be fun! – two weeks from now. Am trying not to go all tenterhooks but I’m surely there’s plenty of time for that, for example, during the pre-obs conference that’s supposed to be held before the Big Day.

On Tuesday, I went to the library@esplanade before meeting YH for dinner and drinks. Wanted to borrow Mar adentro on DVD to watch for a euthanasia unit I’m covering at the moment, but it’s ‘restricted’, for in-house viewing by serious researchers only. So much for the perks of Premium membership. Somebody should tell NLB that people who are willing to fork out $21 every year on membership dues when they don’t really need to, probably would be serious. In any case, I got Woody Allen’s Manhattan instead; and spent several hours much later that evening being amused by his portrayal of Jewish comedic neurotism set against Gershwin’s glorious music. As for Mar adentro, I ended up borrowing BM’s copy and watching it at WS’ place until 1.40 in the morning, because I wanted to screen it today for 6F. A good, troubling movie – which I guess means the same thing.

But back to YH; he says I’m ‘calmer’. Well, I suppose it could be worse. And then I got to thinking about the correlation between being calm and being empowered. But rather than expound on it to death, I’m going to lay out an anecdote I thought of a couple of months back, but never got around to putting it down on paper. Maybe it’ll better illuminate what I’m trying to get at:

“Long time ago, in ancient China, there lived a famous artist, who caused a great hubbub when he announced, after many long years in seclusion, that he wanted to pay a visit to his old schoolhouse, where he had once taught before going on to achieve great renown in the artistic world. The schoolhouse master, working with Wei’s aides, spared no expense of time and effort in drawing up a visit programme that would do them both honour, not least because he wanted to showcase the many improvements and achievements that he had wrought for the schoolhouse ever since the days of the artist.

The day of the visit arrived, and amidst much pomp and fanfare, the artist and his aides were escorted by the schoolhouse master along every corridor and pillar, into every workroom and toolshed. Before long, the entourage came into the main courtyard, where several of the older children were practising their caligraphy. Noticing that one child was not holding his brush correctly, the artist gently went up to the boy and adjusted the instrument about his small fingers. Immediately his penmanship flowered from the hitherto illegible scrawls.

An aide, visibly disturbed by this action, whispered to the artist indignantly, “Master, why did you have to do that? Shouldn’t you chastise the schoolmaster instead, whose obvious neglect of his charges has undoubtedly caused this grave error to go for so long undetected and uncorrected?”

The artist replied, simply, “You forget, I am a teacher. Where you choose to chastise, I choose to guide.”

I’m going to end by announcing that I just received another stack of CA essays today. And one more’s coming tomorrow. Oh glorious fate awaits my quill of vermillion.


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