Unconvention emphasizes collaboration, prioritizing organization


Joss Whedon speaks to student attendees of the Unconvention on March 18. Credit: Sophie Haber/Chronicle

Sophie Haber

Through workshops, group discussions and question and answer sessions with industry leading guest speakers, students in Unconventional Leadership emphasized the importance of collaboration and prioritizing the goals of an organization over personal ambition at the third annual Unconvention on Saturday.

They moderated discussions with writer and director Joss Whedon about what it means to be a good leader, in which he spoke about the obligation to help those whom they are leading.

“I think the major thing that I got out of today is that being a leader is not just doing what’s best for yourself, but it’s about doing what’s best for the people around you and thinking about what will make the best outcome for them,” Lily Block ’19 said.

Students organizers led breakout sessions, where they demonstrated the effectiveness of collaboration with activities such as an escape room, an improvisational session and team bonding exercises.

“They incorporated things they’ve learned from the curriculum into their breakout groups.” Unconventional Leadership teacher Jordan Church said. “Anytime as a teacher you can get your students to teach, then you really have already won the game, because that is always the goal.”

Unlike traditional conventions, the Uncovention did not involve lectures. Rather, student organizers sought to teach leadership through hands-on activities and real-life experiences.

“A lot of the things Church always wants us to do is to ask questions to get people involved,” Unconventional Leadership student Maddy Harbert ’17 said. “The way we learn is by him asking us questions, and us answering and figuring out the responses ourselves, so I used that in my workshops and classes. It not only got them more engaged, but it also helped them understand the material better.”

Students from schools throughout Los Angeles attended the event.

“Leadership is so much more than yourself; it’s about not only seeing the bigger picture of what you’re a part of, but also seeing the individual as a part of a whole and working to a common goal,” Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies student Jessica Stratman said. “I know that in our class we’re always about improving, so I figured that we would learn some skills at this Unconvention that we could bring back to our leadership class.”