"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”*
George Bernard Shaw
*(And woman. Obviously.)
~ Quick Facts ~
Who Are We?
We're a team of "unreasonable", sharp and experienced young adults, passionate about helping pupils become leaders
What Do We Do?
We develop cultures of leadership across the UK's top schools through the delivery of inspirational programmes
Where Are We?
We're based in the heart of entrepreneurial London (Shoreditch), but work with students all across the UK
~ Welcome from our Founder ~
"Only worry about things you can do something about".
Welcome to The Unreasonables!
We pride ourselves on being unlike any other leadership organisation in the world. We aren’t a mechanical group of people who develop educational programmes in a bubble and then churn them out by the hundred. Instead, we are partnered with a small group of some of the country’s top schools, and deliver programmes that are developed by our group of inspirational, entrepreneurial and impressive young men and women. Behind our Associates and Facilitators sits our growing Advisory Board – thoughtful and experienced individuals with a real interest in education who support the development of The Unreasonables' ideas and initiatives.
We want your pupils to lead themselves to a future of their own making and, whilst not jostling them towards entrepreneurship, we believe that entrepreneurship and leadership are intricately linked. Pupils may have no interest in “business”, but the leading doctors, lawyers, politicians and artists of this world are all incredibly entrepreneurial – they all use what we call the “Entrepreneurial Frame” to move to the forefront of their professions, whereby they see opportunities and take risks to realise rewards. We help pupils develop this ability.
We’d love to speak with you to see how we can support your pupils and your school. We’re here to help ensure that your boys and girls are ready for the complex, competitive and exciting world that lies beyond the school gates.
Do pick up the phone if you have any questions.
With best wishes,
The Dux Programme
Great Prefects lead - they don't just manage. They change things, they don't just retain the status quo. This programme ensures your leaders have a lasting legacy at your school.
Debunking the Leadership Myth
Introduction to Leadership
Young people often misunderstand what leadership is, and who who has the right to lead. This programme welcomes all pupils into the fold.
Some schools want to go beyond the one-off programmes - we help those particularly ambitious schools to place leadership in the DNA of their institution.
~ Inspiration ~
So, how did this all come about?
In 2008, half way through my undergraduate degree, I received an email from my former Deputy Headmistress. Could I pop over, she asked, to explain to her new Head Girl and prefects what on earth being a student leader was all about, how to make the most of the opportunity and how to avoid the deepest pot-holes? I had been Head of School in my final year at Highgate and was deemed a suitable candidate. Happily, I got on a train to do just that.
That day spawned an idea – perhaps it wasn’t just her girls that would benefit from some support in their leadership development? And so The Unreasonables was born. It aimed to ensure that Prefect systems offered an invaluable experience for the young people involved and that they could become one of the greatest assets of any school.
On finishing my degree, The Unreasonables was put on hold as I took a leap into the corporate world to join the world’s largest consumer goods company, Procter & Gamble, on their Graduate Leadership Programme. But after two years, I decided that a return to education was inevitable – I wanted to ensure that young people were better prepared for what awaits them beyond their formal education.
This want led me back to The Unreasonables – an organisation that has rapidly broadened its remit to aid all young people to take advantage of each opportunity that comes their way, and to empower them to lead themselves to a future of their own making.
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~ Leadership Philosophy ~
The below excerpt is taken from an interview with Duncan Piper, Founder of The Unreasonables; 4th September 2012
Q. How does The Unreasonables define “leadership”?
A. At school and university, leadership is about looking at yourself, or at the world around you, and being visionary. It’s about being dissatisfied with the status quo, imagining something better and rising to the challenge of realising that ideal.
Q. What is the biggest thing that stops young people from taking the lead?
A. In our experience, it seems to be the fear of failure that holds most pupils back.
Q. What can be done to remove that impediment?
A. There seems to be two approaches available to educators. We might try to get young people to be less fearful of failure (as Susan Jeffers describes in “Feel the fear and do it anyway”) by sort of shaking them and saying, “just do it! Don’t worry about failing!” But we see this is a rather blunt approach which appreciates neither the complexity of fear nor the stigma of failure. A more effective approach, we believe, is to re-evaluate how both pupils and schools measure failure and success.
Take an example – if “success” meant “raising £25,000 for charity”, then many young people won’t step up to the challenge for fear of raising just £500. But if “success” meant “rising to the challenge of fundraising”, then many more would put themselves forward.
And so we work to transfer the value of young leadership from outcome (i.e. results) to process (i.e. experience) in order to get more young people engaged with leading themselves and others. Once young people realise that they won’t be measured on the outcome of their leadership, they realise that they literally cannot fail if they do decide to step up to the challenge. This is very different to “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” – with our approach, there is no fear to feel.
It’s a reality that whilst all of these young people will succeed if measured on process, some may fail if they had been measured on outcome. But by partaking in the process and experiencing leadership first-hand, they (if you believe that “practice makes perfect” or, at the very least, “practice makes better”), will develop effective leadership capabilities, preparing them to deliver meaningful outcomes further down the line – surely that’s the educational ideal? We’re interested in leadership learning, and so we’re interested in the process.
Q. Are people born leaders?
A. Absolutely not – no one is born a leader, but everyone can be one (just not everyone can be a leader of others all of the time). Becoming an effective leader is about having a healthy diet of leadership experience, an environment conducive to leadership learning and effective programmes in skills development.
Q. So do you think you can “teach” leadership?
A. You can work with young people to develop some of the skills associated with effective leadership, yes, but you can’t place a leadership blueprint on young people and expect it to work. We believe that each leader is truly unique, and that leadership is not about being a CEO or the Prime Minister. It isn’t about shouting the loudest, or being the most confident. Indeed, as Susan Cain observes, society has become obsessed with an extroverted style of leadership, but some of the most effective leaders are quiet, studious, introverted human beings, and we should celebrate that.
So when we talk about “teaching” leadership we mean more than developing appropriate skills. Importantly, we’re also talking about creating an environment which allows (and empowers) young people to have the experiences necessary to develop their own skills and unique style of leadership independently.