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[Opinion] Tension and Fear

Posted March. 18, 2003 23:02,   


One of the ways young teachers, who just have entered the world of teaching, get a tight grip on their classes is by putting constant strain on students to some extent. They are strict in about almost everything from being late to forgetting homework, and dole out punishment such as making lazy students run around the field. This usually causes the entire class to start paying more attention. Teachers never say things like, ‘I will be mean to you’. It is only for the students and for the creation of a positive learning environment. For students, however, it is like a reign of terror. What`s worse is that often times their teacher starts to lack fairness when meting out punishment. Some are lucky enough to get away with their wrongdoings and some students just do not feel like working hard.

There is an old Korean saying, ‘You can survive even in a tiger`s cave as long as you can remain alert’. It is true that people need some tension for work, but it might be better to work without feeling tense in general. Scott McNilley, CEO of Sun Microsystems, is known to play golf in a do-or-die style. In contrast, Bill Gates, Chairman of rival Microsoft, seems to get relax and enjoy his time on the golf course. There is something to be said about McNilley though; he has better scores. Yet Java, developed by Sun Microsystems, is seen to have vulnerabilities when it comes to networking despite strong functionality, while Microsoft Windows is considered the information technology standard for its interoperability and agility. With this line of thinking, to become a successful CEO in this era of digital technology, they say, you need to be more agile than tense.

“The key aspect of President Roh`s leadership is applying due tension,” said top presidential aide Mun Hee-sang recently. “Relationships with the press, politicians and the prosecutors` office have grown tense,” he went onto say. “It is a process of normalization although at first not easy to accept.” President Roh said that he was able to become a president in the most part due to his tense relationship with the press. He was hard on himself not to make mistakes and was on his best behavior. Yet, we doubt that the extent of pressure given from the top will ever be felt the same by those at the lower levels. For those receiving pressure, it can amount to fear instead of due pressure.

‘Tense Leadership’ seems to be related to ‘Il Principe’ written by Machiavelli. In the book, he argued that it is safer for a ruler to be feared than loved by his people, because humans tend to harm people they love rather than people they fear. Yet, even Machiavelli emphasized that a ruler must not be the subject of hatred, least not respected by his people, while making people fear him.