Lao Tzo’s quote, “To lead the people, walk behind them,” can ignite conversation on the dichotomies of strength vs. dominance, humility vs. passivity, ends vs. means, and how leaders respond to conflict and influence. This can help students to better engage in the context and climate of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which poignantly examines the power wielded by various kinds of leaders. While reading the novel, we would discuss how characters lead and whether or not they lead well. Students would then answer the essential question, “Should great leaders follow?”, using a mode of persuasive writing with a character or well-known leader as a focus.
Level: Secondary English/language arts
Subject Area: American multicultural literature
Author: Karina Isley