The Long Way Around, or, One in a Series of Faculty Academy Posts

This year is my second time attending Faculty Academy and once again I am not disappointed. There is always so much information to synthesize and I find myself wanting to integrate it all and not lose any of it. I took copious notes from the various sessions and now I find myself swimming in a sea of information, where do I even begin? That is a good question so I think I’ll start haphazardly typing and see what happens. I have that feeling there will be multiple blog posts, especially once others start blogging their experiences there will be plenty to talk about.

In order to really understand how things have changed for me from last year I will have to talk about the year in between so bear with me while I recap, give some thanks, and reflect a little. As I began the fall 2007 semester I was excited (really really excited) for my new job at DTLT. I had no idea what I was getting into, I just knew that it was where I wanted to be. I learned a lot about myself that fall semester as I frantically tried to keep up with the pace of school work, my campus job, extracurricular activities, and my own personal demons. One place I could always go to to recharge my batteries was DTLT and I feel beyond lucky that they haven’t gotten sick of me yet. I don’t think many people can say that work is the place they get to feel re-energized and again I am blessed to work with some of the best people I have ever known.

Over the year I have often had that feeling of being the little kid dressing up in their parents wardrobe, wearing clothing and shoes many sizes too big. I have also felt like that younger sibling who likes to tag along with their cooler older sibling. I work in an environment where I get to “dress up” and “tag along” and not feel foolish for being unsure or not nearly as knowledgeable. During Janet Murray’s keynote lecture at Faculty Academy she discussed the importance of imitation as a means of connecting and the pleasure found in shared pattern imitation. I know how valuable this has been for me as I watch the people I work with and see how they approach the world. It is not just seeing them perform their jobs and their demonstration of the skills they have, but how they live out their lives. In many ways I try to model myself after them and learn from them in whatever way I can, they have been an invaluable part of my growth as an adult this past year. I genuinely look up to the people I work with and as I am sure I have said on many occasions I am beyond blessed that I have the relationship that I do with all of them. I’m not just learning skills at my job, I am taking away life lessons. Have I mentioned how lucky I am?

Academically speaking it has not been an easy year, although the spring was much better. My freshman year I had the benefit of being relatively anonymous so making mistakes was mostly mine to dwell on, but as the year has progressed and my academic life has become more exposed, my failings and mistakes have become more visible. I have often been left feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my poor performance. I’ve had those moments of ‘impostor student syndrome’ where I feel that I am really not quite as good as people would like to think I am and by practically proving myself right in the fall semester I’ve taken a few knocks to my self-esteem. What has not changed though is my underlying faith in learning and “real school”, it has been a constant thread over the last year and has helped me keep focus when I got caught up in the dispair of performing poorly in a class. There is also many other people to thank for helping me not completely recede into the corner I am rather fond of and I hope I have made it clear to them their importance in my education and life.

I could give a lengthy dissertation on all the small and big things that have happened that have molded me this year, but this post is already getting long enough and it isn’t necessary to know it all in order to understand my mindset. Certain things have become clear to me over the past year and one of the most important (if not the most) is the community, the shared sense of play. Another is the importance of having the scaffolding of knowledge to build to greater heights and play in those really cool sandboxes. Third, is to “go boldly” and address those underlying fears that prevent me from being adventurous. Lastly, the importance of having the imagination and the readiness to be imaginative and make connections so that we make the best use of our community, build well in those sand boxes, and boldly take on our fears.

More to come of course and I suppose I will actually talk about Faculty Academy in those future posts.

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3 Responses to “The Long Way Around, or, One in a Series of Faculty Academy Posts”


  1. 1 Gardner Campbell May 16, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Wonderful, resonant post.

  2. 2 Jim May 18, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I agree with Gardner entirely, and while I am sad he is leaving I am thrilled that you are still with us. For you are an amazing member of the team at DTLT and one of the crucial reasons why the community is so strong. You are like a barometer for the spirit of inquiry and the agonisitic pursuit of knowledge, and I find your presence always an inspiration for talking, arguing, thinking out loud, laugingh, and imagining together.

    I am continually struck by how “real school” you are; you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk. You are honest about your struggles, yet realize their insignificance in relationship to what’s important and why learning must be difficult, even painful –because we learn how to confront and kick the ass of our demons. That’s school, and that’s cool — and you do it! I was far weaker and shamefully more predictable in my undergraduate career, and I guess I had to re-attend undergraduate with you to learn how to go more boldly into a deeper connection between school, learning, passion, and the meanings of life: which are all just different words for community.

    Thank you, Shannon!

  3. 3 Steve May 23, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Shannon,

    Never forget that grades never define the totality of who you are, or of what you’ve learned. Most of my best friends (as well as I) have regularly wondered if they are living a sham life, if they are as talented and valued as people say they are. The answer is they are, as are you.

    Thanks for sharing your reflections.


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