The other day during our awesome #SAChat, we were talking about our respective HESA Programs and “Things They Don’t Tell You In Grad School”. Now, as you can probably imagine, the conversation went a few specific routes, including theory vs. practice, what should or shouldn’t HESA program curriculum consist of, and the battle that consists between the Degrees (Ph. Ds vs. Masters vs. Bachelors).
Today’s post, however, is sharing a perspective that, for me, supplements much of the conversation that occurred. Also, if you weren’t able to participate in either #SAChat, check out the transcript: http://studentaffairscollective.org/sachat-transcript-05082014-things-they-dont-tell-you-in-grad-school/
So, after our chat that day, I sat at my desk for a little while contemplating our conversation. While munching on my Mint M&Ms and drinking my lemonade, it dawned on me what the key underlying perspective we were all jabbing at was. It’s that we are ALL educators doing our best. We’re not only staff, faculty, administrators, but educators. We’re not only our highest degree earned, but sharers and learners too.
Every single person on our respective campuses is an educator despite the degree or title they hold. While some positions may require additional education or experience, not everyone has to have that additional education or upper level administrative position to make an impact on or educate our students or each other for that matter. During the conversations, it was mutually agreed upon by almost everyone that there are administrators who make very poor #SAPros, while there are individuals not in the Student Affairs field who are on, say the facilities staff, who are the type of #SAPro that many of us desired to become.Some may decide that theory vs. practice is better to reach their students or colleagues. Others may prefer a more personable approach. No matter what though, they are lessons on more than just academics or leadership. They encompass life.
Our degrees and titles don’t give us magical powers of appropriate decision-making, a perfect comprehension of a campus political structure, an insight into our students minds and heart or even special advising abilities. It’s our personal life experiences, willingness to learn and to share as well as being good stewards of higher education and life that makes us great for our students.
Why we are hung up on our degrees and titles can probably be attributed to human nature or perhaps tendencies of the ego (Undergraduate Philosophy class on Freud’s id, ego, and super-ego FINALLY came in handy!) But no doubt there’s plenty of research to explain why we have such a need to divide, categorize and box people in. However, the interesting part is that as higher education professionals, and further more student affairs professionals, we acknowledge this divide and this battle for superiority in title, role, pay, and even teaching philosophy, but, for some reason we seem to be the quintessential example of the superficial hierarchy and “boxing in of people”,in which the educational and purposeful impact on our students and each other is lost. The basic tendency for #SAPros is to encourage our students and each other to step out of the box, to experience new things, reach across the aisles and build a community. But as Higher Education Community Members, we make it almost impossible at times to break these barriers between each other.While verbally promoting aisle crossing, collaboration and mutual respect, we continue to place each other into small boxes based on our degrees, titles and even functional areas, building up our silos and ultimately weakening our impact.
How can we build a community in our offices, field and the general higher education community where our degrees,teaching philosophies and titles aren’t what divide us, but rather brings us together in an open, honest and purposeful community and able to blend with one another for the common mission of education?
Until nest time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!