A morning conversation with a colleague centered on change. Life changes, work changes; changes comprise our life. How we react to these fluctuations is what allows us to make it through the day.
What happens when change does not come fast enough? On more occasions than I would like to admit, I have found myself lamenting the good fortune of others. “That should have been MY job.” “I was due for that raise.”
This “Why not me?” attitude is a heavy, messy piece of luggage to carry around. If these things did not happen for me, they were not mine to own. It’s time to shrug them off and take the next train.
Nothing ever is. Everything is becoming. ~Heraclitus
If a train doesn’t stop at your station, then it’s not your train. ~Marianne Williamson
My opportunity to teach a graduate course in Student Development Theory has been incredibly rewarding. I have enjoyed exploring Erickson, Chickering, Baxter Magolda, and the other tenets of our work with an enthusiastic group of up and coming student affairs professionals. We will wrap up the semester with an intensive look at the journey of self-authorship. The student affairs role in this journey, of becoming good company in the transformation of our students, defines my own practice.
Peggy Meszaros shares this excerpt describing her Learning Partnerships Model:
It is important to have a good understanding of the model, and I offer a simple metaphor to help in visualizing it. To fully understand the Learning Partnerships Model [and the student affairs role in self-authorship], think about a journey you may be planning. You will need some form of transportation, a road map with signs along the way to guide your journey, and a final destination. Now visualize your mentoring transportation as a tandem bicycle. There is a rider on the front, the student, who decides the direction and is in charge of making decisions. The rider on the back is you, the teacher or student affairs professional, who stokes the bike, providing challenge and support for the student on the front. You provide the elements of challenge and support in your teaching and (you might picture them as the saddlebags for the journey). Keeping challenge and support in balance as the student heads in the direction of self-authorship is part of your role and a key element of the model. The guideposts are found as students move from absolute knowing, the first marker; through transitional or independent knowing, the second marker; to contextual knowing, the final destination.
How do you provide good company?
. . . . .
Meszaros, P. (2007). The journey of self-authorship: Why is it necessary? New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 109, p. 5-14. doi: 10.1002/tl.261
Nevitt Sanford is one of my favorite student affairs theorists. Sanford’s (1967) theory on student development was based upon providing a balance of challenge and support. Too much support with too little challenge creates a cushy environment for the student, where development is unlikely to occur. However, the opposite of too little support with too much challenge also makes development an impossible and negative experience.
Sanford was a political and social psychologist and instrumental in defining how prejudices and racism are defined early in childhood. His The Authoritarian Personality is a classic work in understanding the issues behind the Holocaust. Sanford engaged in a decade long academic freedom lawsuit with the University of California when he refused to sign a loyalty oath during the McCarthy era.
If we could punish people with extremely unpopular opinions then we could silence people with less unpopular opinions. ~Nevitt Sanford
It was Sanford’s work in student development theory that defines my philosophy for student affairs. Sanford pushed for colleges and universities to provide access and service to those for whom higher education may be out of reach. He challenged us to consider what education would look like if colleges enrolled students whom they could help the most, rather than compete for the students who boosted academic rankings and visibility.
What theorist or theory defines your work in student affairs?
Sanford, N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York, NY: Harper.
Sanford, N. (1967). Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press.