Today's convo with the Guy Upstairs was more of a collection of memories I tried to categorize in my head. I remembered an inspiring lecture/presentation by a liberal Franciscan friar (which I will blog about later on-it's really good!!), traveling through Europe on a bus with 263 people after college and strategic planning for a social media fundraising campaign. Needless to say, I picked another, more relevant to the topic of the day at work: how do we tell our story as a quality institution of higher learning.
A few weeks ago I sat in the, let's say, 10th row, of the auditorium where staff members on campus gathered for a meeting for updates from the administration.
WAIT, stuck!!! Where am I going with this?? It 's too early for writer's block, c'mon! Ok, I do want to write about what I experienced at this meeting because it was too good NOT to share, especially for those of us out there, education geeks (and proud of it!!!) who have chosen to live their/our lives in educational settings... especially when we actually, wholeheartedly, believe in this stuff. Really, we do. Working in education can also be frustrating and draining, but I can speak for friends that live it every day. Man, it IS worth it. And more than anything, we, idealists and optimists (sarcastic and witty, at times!) think we can change the world... one kid, young adult, parent, teacher, at a time... Now, I can take this entry and go into a very different direction, but I will stick to my initial idea...
One of our administrators, who is both loved and respected as a scholar in mind and heart, plus teaching and service, couldn't have said it best. He began telling a story of transaction, transmission and transformation. I said, huh?? He started just like that: "I am going to tell you a story of transaction, transmission and transformation." Of course everyone gave him a deer in headlights look. Seriously? Where is he going with this? Ok, let's give him a chance, I really like this guy. He has been a mentor, colleague and caring "dad-like" figure, always respecting me and my work and really, truly, caring.
Joe said, among many other things, "our work, what we do in this university community, a community of learners, scholars and servant-leaders, is offer transactions." He continued saying that when we invite students to be part of this community we make a transaction with them. We offer to educate them with our resources, both physical and theoretical and they show up, listen and take it in. The transaction between us and them is made. Then comes transmission. Now what, Joe? Where are you taking this? "Once students are IN and our transaction is complete, the transmission begins." I am hooked! This transmission that is taking place is the learning, the living, the crying, the laughing, the supportive presence and virtual hug. The pat on the back when things don't go well, the life that people, students, faculty and staff, experience here. It is like magic and at times, impossible to explain. A transmission of emotions, of knowledge being questioned, challenged, while developing minds that compliment the heart and attempt, although difficult at times (ha! I know!) to balance, to find that imperfect compliment.
Tell me more!!
After the transaction has led to transmission then the tranformation happens. Initially, it's the students that are tranformed. They are transformed by the initial introduction to an educational environment thrilled to welcome them as they are, to meet where intellectually, emotionally and spiritually they are, and that's ok. Through classroom experience, embedded into curricula that embraces learning outside the norms of four walls and a smartboard, our community is tranformed by being present. I remember hearing an older proff once telling me that at times it did not matter if you were the first one to speak up, what mattered is that you were there, you were present. Even the adults are seduced by the magic that happens when they walk down the path from a building that might look old and musty, but whispers lectures by great ones, to the steps of a newer one that oozes opportuntiy, new energy, new knowledge. I am transformed.
Many of us are in awe of what we just witnessed. If you weren't there, I am certainly not doing justice to his words and inspiration, so use your imagination. It was indeed magic.
Joe says... "well, and with all these transactions, transmissions and transformations that take place on this campus, we clearly see the word that connects all three is trans"- but do me a favor, he continued. "take out trans. What do you have left?" BRAVO Joe! If you take out trans you have
mission, action and formation! Genius! Our mission as educators empowers and inspires us to action, which leads to formation. We are then formed to be better teachers, engineers, doctors, accountants, people. We are formed to then be sent forth and form others to be better human beings.
I looked up and smiled. Hey, Friend, I got it! Tell you what, stick me with and help me stay true to the mission, take action so I can transform. This is pretty cool, I have to say. Cheesy, some of you may say, but I don't care. I have lived it... not easy to figure out, I will admit, but very cool.
In conclusion, yeah, I am writing in honor of education. I dedicate this post to all my fellow education geeks who live, breathe and love for this thing, this magic that happens when you can witness young minds ask questions, challenge authority (hehehe, that is a must sometimes!) and develop new knowledge. If we can also be there to guide and discern with them, well, that's just the icing on the cake!