Have you ever been to a Chick-Fil-A?  I’m not a big fast-food person, but I’ve got to say that this is one fast food joint that I don’t mind going to.  In fact, I really kind of love it.  It’s always clean, the customer service is great, it’s (somewhat) healthy – or so I tell myself.  And, they have the BEST kids meals.  Because instead of a toy, they give out books or Veggie Tales CDs.  I’m actually happy to provide them with my business.  Please…take a few of my dollars.

What’s interesting to me is that the owner of this food chain is one of the most respected leaders in the whole United States.  I had the honor of listening to him speak about leadership and what he had to say was so profound – it’s all about the slinky.

The point of the whole leadership talk was that leaders are servants to their customers.  And at some point, true leaders need to become a slinky going down the stairs.  You start off, but to keep going, you need the people behind you to take the lead.  What an awesome visual!

Then, I started thinking about how this relates to education.  We want our students to become independent, critical thinkers that can be leaders AND followers.  They need to learn how to be both equally well.  We want them to be the slinky.  They need to learn how to take the first step off the ledge to unknown territory; they need to learn to hold on to their peers and bring them along for the ride.  And, they need to learn to allow their peers to take the next step because innovation requires collaboration.

As Steve Jobs so succinctly said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.  You need to be the forward motion of the slinky to be innovative, but you’ll need to collaboration of others for your innovation to be reality.

Let’s take that even one step further into our own teaching practice.  There’s a lot going on in education right now.  Teachers everywhere are feeling the pressure – so many changes and not enough time.  So when I introduce Arts Integration to them, I am usually met with rolling eyes and crossed arms.  No more! – they scream at me silently.  And I get it.  I really do.

But as teachers, don’t we also want to be the slinky in motion?  Don’t we want to move forward and grasp those students in any way we can?  Arts Integration ties so many things together.  It’s not “one more thing”.  Instead, it’s “THE” thing – the momentum that pushes that slinky into motion.

Take a journey – try being the slinky.  Maybe you’re the forward end today.  Maybe you’re the back end tomorrow.  But as long as you’re moving with the idea of holding on together, we’re arching our education practice together.

Maybe Chick-Fil-A could put a slinky in the kids meal next time?