This or That…

My friend, Doug is amazing.

Truly he is.

My husband, Matt is amazing.

Truly he is.

Why? Because they both hate boxes. While I have long been a hater of ‘boxes’- they have made my disdain even more real. I’m hoping this blog doesn’t get too long because I’m fairly passionate about all of the division happening in the world, or college in general.

My friend, Doug, is a Math Professor (gasp…go ahead). Now, in your head list all of the things you suspect of him because of his chosen Profession. I did the same thing! Doug also loves theatre and comedy and is HILARIOUS! How can this be? Shouldn’t he just be wearing sports coats with leather on the elbows, looking over his glasses, and have chalk stains on his pants? He’s none and all of those things – except I’ve never seen him in a sport coat, only a bow tie. He quite dashing, actually.

My husband, Matt, was a College Football Player and later Coach. Now, in your head list all of the things you suspect him because of his past. I did the same thing! Matt also loves blues music and is slightly obsessed with historical architecture. How can this be? He should not be a reader, he should not be sensitive, he should not want to go to a musical. He’s all of those things. Every day his ‘out of the box’ amazes and intrigues me.

What is the deal with the box? Why do we feel the need to be this OR that? Why do we have to choose? I’m sensing this increasing nature of our division in our University. We are now moving to ‘Small Learning Communities’ in our dorms. The argument? Then the business majors can be with other business majors (and so forth). Really? Doesn’t that lead to more boxes? Ugh!!! Yes, I understand the point. They are going through the same thing, they are taking the same classes, they are working together in class – so it’s ‘easier’ that they are all together.

How about the business major gets to know a theatre major? How about the psychology major gets to know a math major? How about the education major gets to know a biology major? How about we get to know each other. Isn’t that how the ‘real world’ works? Don’t all people have to work together?

Or not…we have become a culture of not working together (as evidenced by the latest Government shutdown). We have become so ingrained in what is right and wrong, this or that – that we have forgot that we are, at the most basic level – humans. Humans with different strengths that never have to be defined. The very nature of words (their prefix) like define, differentiate, divide, diverge mean to create opposite, reverse, against. Those words don’t sense community building.

It seems to me that the more we differentiate and define the differences, the further apart we become.

I vow to fight this movement in my courses. I will challenge my students to work with others – to respect other viewpoints. I will work to increase their ability to engage in civil discourse and a part of this civil discourse is to simply take people for what they are, where they are, in whatever moment you meet them.

It’s important to teach my content area. I love teaching speaking and writing; teaching communication. Through this process of self discovery, meeting Doug, and falling in love with my husband I have discovered what may be the most important concept within communication. Authenticity.

We must teach and be authentic to our wants and desires… we cannot allow our actions to be based upon the ‘preassigned’ box/ideals designated by others. It’s not even just our career choices or like and dislikes – in all areas of our life we have to be authentic and honest about what we think/feel/need…

But maybe, most of all as teachers we need to support others in what they think/feel/need regardless of how ‘right’ we think it is for them. We must help others get out of their box to truly discover life by promoting their own personal this and that.

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