Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is that "Dawgs" or is that "Dogs"?

I was reminded of the wide chasm between me and my students today, as in age, experience, and culture.  I love these students in this class.  (Well, to be truthful, I generally love all the students in my classes, as they are so unique and it is just so much fun to learn with them and engage with them.)  I was talking about what I have learned from my dogs, and one of them said, "is that dogs as in "dawgs your homeboys" or "dogs your pets?"

It really might surprise them to know that back in Texas, we were saying "you dawg" meaning "you are so forward" long before Randy started saying "what up dawg?" on American Idol. :)  

The point I was trying to make was about the importance of relationship, boundaries, respect, and taking people (or dogs) where they are.  I know that I bear a huge responsibility for what students in the classes I teach learn.  After all, it is their educators who teach them how to practice social work.  But I also know as I come more and more (possibly due to advancing age and generativity vs. stagnation about to transition to integrity vs. despair) to believe that we are all in this together and that our heart, our passion, and our hope are as important as our knowledge and skills and that somehow we will achieve equifinality.  

For crying out loud, look at our own profession and how we struggle with where we are going.  How can we expect more of our students--the learners--than we are able to deliver ourselves with our years and years of experience?  I have a dear friend and colleague who used to say "If you have a choice between being right and being kind, pick being kind."  I am not so sure these days that being kind is not the better alternative when graduating social workers than being right.  I finally realized back in Texas that it was not my job to be the policewoman of the social work profession.  It was my job to create the opportunity for learning (sometimes not so comfortable and sometimes downright painful) and trust that the universe would take care of the details.  And then...I came to Mississippi and picked up my badge and turned into the policewoman of social work in Mississippi.  It has taken me several years to acculturate to the state and the unique needs of the people who live here...to remember that my job is to create the opportunity for learning, not just be the standard setter.  

It is about believing that we all do the best we can at the time with the knowledge and skills we possess, and believing that ultimately, people of good will and intention will find our way.  I used to say there were two main "rules" I used in my work:
1.  We do what we do, and don't do what we don't do, and
2.  If you accept people the way they are, you give them permission to be what they are not.

Meaning, we can only do the best we can with who we are, our experiences and understanding, and when we accept people for who they are and where they are, it creates the opportunity to feel safe enough to try new things, hear new things, and be new things.

I do not know where we are going in this state, this profession, this world.  I only know I am pleased to have been on board the train.

1 comment:

Gigi said...

Love it. Glad we have a new engineer on one of those trains. :)