Posts Tagged ‘higher_education’
This post by Wayne Bivens-Tatum on “Why I Ignore Gurus, Sherpas, Ninjas, Mavens, and Other Sages” did resonate with me. I also tend to ignore those types, or when I listen to them, I simply adapt what I need from them and toss out the rest. This is quote from the piece that really stuck with me this time:
“Based on my experience, I know the gurus’ giving advice about things I must learn is wrong. I can learn those things, and I might even benefit from that learning, but I don’t have to and will probably do just fine without learning them. I don’t follow sherpas and gurus because I prefer to go my own way. Leaders need followers, but I’m not much of either. I’ve found that it’s much easier to develop skills as I need them than to be told that some skill will benefit me because the teller has the skill and reaps benefits.”
As I wrote when I shared the link on Facebook, this is a lot of what I believe. Sure, I can lead when need be. Just because I do not have much use for a lot of leadership it does not mean I do not know how to lead. I may have mentioned elsewhere that I am a bit more a member of the Patton School of Leadership (Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way). A big reason I do ignore a lot of the library gurus and big shots is this: often the advice they give is because whatever they are peddling (coding and learning HTML back in the day, and yes, back in library school, learning HTML was a big deal; or social media now) benefited them. They get benefits from peddling it (speaking engagements, book deals, fame, higher blog views and counts, followers on social media, etc.) regardless of whether what they peddle or not is good advice for you or not.
I have learned to do what works for me. As an information literacy librarian, I have learned to use the skills I teach my students of always questioning and evaluating the sources of information. Plus, I have also learned the following: You (often) improvise. You adapt. You overcome.
By the way, go read the whole piece. It is well worth it.
I came across this list when Bob Sutton, another leadership and management “guru,” discussed it in his blog here. Gardner’s ideas go well with some things I read in the book Generation on a Tightrope (you can see my notes on the book here), specifically the parts of the book discussing where a university needs to make a stand. At a time when a lot of people view universities, at best, as glorified vocational school and, at worst, as wastes of time and money, I think this list makes a good reminder of what is really important. Sutton’s discussion is worth reading as well.
So, according to John Gardner, the university stands for:
- things that are forgotten in the heat of battle.
- values that get pushed aside in the rough and tumble of everyday living.
- the goals we ought to be thinking about and never do.
- the facts we don’t like to face.
- the questions we lack the courage to ask.
I think in large measure these values are why I enjoy working in higher education. I think they are also values that librarians share and should be embracing. We should stand for truth and have the courage to ask the questions others will not ask. We should then seek out answers where they may lead, and we should help others do so as well.
By the way, Sutton does not mention the exact source of Gardner’s words, but I did a little searching. They come from the following book:
- Gardner, John W. (1968). No Easy Victories. New York: Harper Books.
This is definitely a must watch. Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, via the RSA’s Animate series. You can visit the site for video, a transcript, and other information. Plus the site does have a lot of other topics.
The video on YouTube:
I was glad to see this post entitled “because: a manifesto.” The anonymous author writes out her (I presume “her”) reasons for leaving academia. This moved me because it is a topic I talk about very often, if at all these days, but I chose to leave an oppressive, often abusive doctoral program as well. I have not left academia all the way given I work in an academic library. However, there are days when I feel that a lot of what that author writes is very applicable to librarianship– both the profession overall and my particular work situation. I do like librarianship and what I do very much, but once in a while I do find myself wondering what if I left academia completely to do something else. I certainly have good skills someone out there would value.
Anyhow, the post is certainly worth reading, and it is one I think more students in doctoral programs who feel trapped should read as well.
I am listing some of the statements from the manifesto that I identify with or move me. I feel there is some applicability to my current profession, but I will abstain from commenting further since I think that these speak for themselves, and I do want to keep this post short. I also just want people to go read the whole thing:
- “Because participating in a system that degrades, demeans, and disempowers you is masochism.”
- “Because stupidity, masochism, and futility should not be rewarded.”
- “Because obfuscation, elitism, arrogance, and self-righteousness should not be rewarded.”
- “Because those in a position to change the system do not.”
- “Because there are other places where that training and preparation will be rewarded, respected, and used.”
So, to the author of the paraphernilian blog, whoever you are, thank you for writing this. May you find peace, happiness, and a good career in your new life outside of academia. And thank you for letting the rest of us know that we are not alone.
A hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.
This is one of those things that you will not learn in college, and yet it is something that many people need to learn. It is, in the words of Nels P. Highberg, how to be “reliably unreliable.” The bottom line, according to his column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is to “be a responsible adult without always being the one who can be counted on for anything at anytime, unless that is something that fits your lifestyle and makes you truly happy.” In other words, this is a reminder about knowing how to draw boundaries and how to keep them. If nothing else, it will help you keep your sanity. By the way, the comments to the column are an interesting look between those who get it and those who somehow expect people to do slave labor and say yes all the time (also known as the ones who have not learned boundaries or common manners).