Archives for the month of: August, 2014

It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed reading the new syllabus created by Joel Williams. It’s the same syllabus I’ll be working with this semester. He’s picked an interesting reading selection for students including a web project called “This I Believe” on NPR.org. Browsing the selections online I click on a couple of topics that interest me. I read about how one woman’s father taught her to never give up in any situation no matter how hard or painful. At a moment she gave up on herself, her father never did. She is now successful in her recent endeavors. In another essay, I read about a father and son’s relationship growing deeper the day the young man drives off across the country to go to college to start anew, and the third, definitely not the last, essay I read was about a woman who pursued a career in literature because it does matter the way the arts can help us see ourselves in new ways.
You see, I’ve been away from academics for almost three years yet still held out for that full time faculty position at an accredited college despite the ever-rising stack of rejection letters I have received and the mental notes of all the times my resume and desire to teach has been ignored.

I have understood the value of writing and have shared my passion to teach to others for many years. I even call myself the Grammar Guardian. You should see my costume. I’m sure my students thought my standards were rather high for grammar because I would find every error. To ease their minds I would tell them that I had written a love letter at the end of each of their papers upon returning them. Whether they understood what I meant, I’m not sure. I have missed their ah-ha moments and triumphs as they improved.

This Monday I’ll be back in the classroom. The phone interview, only a couple of days ago, was the first in about five years. I had almost given up. Somehow the conversation was much less stressful, and I felt much less needy. I explained the type of service I have provided students through my tutoring and teaching as an adjunct professor. I explained the profound love I have to help a struggling student receive a passing grade on a paper. I have tutored my own students on my assignments before the due date if needed. Generous? I suppose. A better term may be service. I was offered the job the following day. I’ll move to a new city in two days to serve more students.

Before this fateful event, I found a website called AuthenticHappiness.org. I took a free quiz to find my character strengths. I wasn’t at all pleased at first when I received the results. My top two strengths are Love and Mercy. Mulling these over I realized that my techniques were completely in line with my strengths. I showed love and mercy in and outside the classroom. I helped students achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my strengths enhanced someone else’s strengths. Give the site’s questionnaire a try. You might be surprised at the results. I surely was, but also thrilled to use these as often as I can now and in my future.

Joy,
Cheryl

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2015-03-10 13.16.18Remember the old saying about judging the content of a book by its cover? People often judge a person’s appearance in the same way. More and more, initial judgments have resulted in murder because what is represented is not exactly reality.

It’s interesting, I’ve had this post in draft form for a long time. But today I dragged it up because it occurred to me that both this post regarding appearances and one of my last posts called Emotional Intelligence are a bit related.

Let’s see how. Take a person dressed in shabby clothing, one in fashionable street clothes, and one in a tuxedo or fine dress. The majority of people assume that the social status or caste of each of these individuals is demonstrated by the clothes each wears. Do we know these people? Perhaps you know someone like them. So what of clothing? It covers the body because, by golly, it’s illegal not to wear something. And note, that people can change what they wear to suit different situations in life. Heck, it is socially unacceptable to show up at a special occasion, say at a fine wedding, wearing a pair of overalls and nothing else. We dress for those occasions. And on a daily basis, we conform to different styles to suggest who we are before we meet others. The initial judgment, then, is what one hopes for, especially on a first date or interview when impressions seem to mean even more than usual. Can we suggest that people use the initial judgment as a sort of selfish act? The whole idea of dressing to impress is a facade which may or may not accurately represent the person presenting it. I suppose some people like the attention. It’s a shame people cannot wear something without others guessing who is inside. To utilize our emotional intelligence, we should aim to find out who the person is before we make our final judgments. The same applies to celebrities. Are we star struck? Are we impressed by those who flaunt money in the form of clothing or vehicles? Why does it matter?

If you’ve been paying attention to current events, you will have noticed that police officers have gunned down or beaten people to death by appearances. I imagine the academy teaches that certain looks should trigger certain responses while on duty. Body language is one thing that officers will pick up on. Emotional intelligence does help us identify with rowdy behavior and the like. We are human. If we understand ourselves, certainly, we can have a better guess at another’s behavior. Again, it’s a guess. Better to ask questions to learn about another before jumping to conclusions.

How does that apply to the color of one’s skin? If you haven’t noticed, skin color cannot be changed like clothing. Nevertheless it is also used to categorize people. Again, we need to use our Emotional intelligence when it comes to differences of appearances. The next time you are in a situation when you begin to judge someone based on appearances, take a second to remind yourself that even you are not the clothes you wear or the car you drive, so the person you wish to judge isn’t likely to fit your initial judgement either. Take time to get to know people. Decide that individuality and diversity is beautiful. And since I mentioned old sayings at the start of this blog, Luke 6:31 ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

Joy,
Cheryl

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