As is my tradition, I attended the Bay City Fireworks for the 4th of July. This year it was just Michael and I, and we set up our chairs and whatnot in Bigelow Park, on the island south of Veterans Park, right on the river. We got there a few hours early and so just talked and people watched. During our time in the park, I watched the nearby play-escape that the multitudes of children were playing on. There were spontaneous games of tag, hide-and-go-seek, touch football, and other youthful games going on, all the while, welcoming new friends and comrades in youth who would periodically enter the playground. After watching them for a while, I realized I found myself thinking that if only higher education could be more like the children on the play ground, how collaborative and pro-active our field could be.
As adults serving in the higher education field we have become so established within in our societal confines that we forget to welcome colleagues with open arms without reservations. We’ve built up barriers between offices, or as many hear at our conferences “silos”, and become territorial and so political that the core and mission of student affairs and higher education suffers.
Watching the children play, they had their tiffs and arguments but they got over them and moved on. Their only goals were to have fun and make friends. While higher education primary purpose is to educate and graduate, the same potential for progress and collaboration is there if only we could drop the confines of certain boundaries and limitations that we have put into place.
Now, perhaps if we still had recess and we staffers could have our own play-escape it might help us break some of these boundaries. However, until that happens, purposeful and honest communication and collaboration is going to have to work for now. In my humble opinion, if we could break down these boundaries that hold us back, just imagine not only the progress and ability to serve the students, but also the enjoyment that we would be able to take from it as well. We would be like children back on the playground, having fun and enjoying our profession and colleagues and really moving it forward.
Just food for thought
Until next time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!