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Monday Musings from WKB, October 23 #emchat #highered #admissions #liberalarts #curseofknowledge

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Colleagues and friends,

Today the President’s Cabinet at Augustana College met in retreat. It was different from most of our leadership team meetings, which ordinarily are consumed with the business of the day and “parking lot issues.” The meeting today was facilitated by a third-party and revolved around Strengths Finder, which all members of the Cabinet took in advance.

The discussion today was focused on how we work together as a leadership team and what strengths we have (and don’t have) as a team. I must admit that I work with a very talented and balanced (from a strengths perspective) group of people.

The exercise also served as a chance for each of us to reflect on our own strengths and to contemplate how and when those strengths are needed.

Over the weekend I shared with a colleague in admissions that we were planning to discuss strengths finder and she immediately asked about my top ten.

So, since I shared them with her, I will share them with you, warts and all! I know that each of these qualities is supposed to be a strength, but there are a couple that make me (and maybe you) a tad uncomfortable.

Here they are in order: Command, Competition, Ideation, Communication, Significance, Deliberative, Adaptability, Maximizer, Strategic and Belief.

If you don’t know that basic description in each of these areas, you can view them here.

Today was one of the best leadership team meetings I have ever participated in and I think it was because we focused on each other’s strengths, opposed to our shortcomings.

Have you done CliftonStrengths? Are you willing to share your top ten with me?

Kent

A thought I can’t get out of my mind

 A few weeks ago I went on a quest to read more about Generation Z and in doing so, purchased a bunch of books for my Kindle through Amazon. In my zeal, I picked a book that’s title started with “Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching…”

But, it wasn’t until I started reading the book on the place last week that I discovered that the rest of the title is “…in the New Post-Christian World.”

This book is by James Emery White and I’ve found it to be fascinating. It’s a book about reaching the so-called un-churched and the “nones” and it is a compelling read.

While there is some really good stuff in the book about Generation Z, what I’ve found so interesting, thus far, and what I think has implications for higher ed, has more to do with reaching an audience that doesn’t know anything about you.

The author of the book recounts an email he received about an upcoming celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Here’s the email:

“Thanks for the informative email. I have been going to Meck for about a month now and I love it! I have even talked my two friends into joining. We are all thankful to be a part of an awesome church with great values. I do have one question. I remember hearing about…[and upcoming] celebration of the Lord’s Supper. What does that mean?…What is a celebration of the Lord’s Supper? Does that mean we all bring some kind of food to share? I am planning on going…but I wanted to make sure I bring something if need be. Any information you can provide…would be greatly appreciated.”

For some us this little tale is amazing.

But, wow, what a smack in the face! And, what an interesting circumstance for us to contemplate in higher education, especially at an undergraduate, residential, liberal arts college.

Think about it; we use inside baseball language all the time and expect that others will know what we are talking about. Make a list sometime of the language in which we dwell. Here are a couple of examples: core curriculum, the bursar, general education, distribution requirements, outcomes, seminars, the liberal arts, the registrar, Convocation, culture, Commencement, orientation, registration, welcome week, competencies, etc.

The author writes the following, which I think might be a bit of an indictment against us in higher ed, too:

“We are so used to talking to the already convinced that we have lost our intuitive sense of what it means to talk to someone who is not a Christ follower. I assume no knowledge whatsoever. I never use terms such as Trinity, revelation, sin or grace without explaining what they mean.”

The author describes all of this as “the curse of knowledge.” I think many of us in higher education have been cursed!

How do we break this curse? How do we become more effective at speaking with those unfamiliar with higher ed? The liberal arts? A residential environment? Do we need to take a step back, break ourselves of the “curse of knowledge, ” for the sake of those who are exploring or don’t know anything about us, and explain more clearly, without any nonsensical jargon, what it is we believe in and do?

 Something for you (and me) to think about

I am leaving on Wednesday for a brief family vacation (and will be taking next Monday off from my musings). The past weeks have been busy for me and for many of you and I feel like I need this step away for a few days to be with my family and focused on them and I am looking forward to it. I’ve been thinking about the “busyness” of the last few weeks and me constantly thinking of myself as busy, but our retreat facilitator has me thinking differently about these matters.

First, this trip is not really a vacation. It’s a renewal of spirit and mindfulness. I need it and many of you do, too.

Next, I need to think a lot less about being busy and more about being deeply engaged. Deep engagement is much different than being busy and I’d like to think that’s how I’ve spent the last few weeks.

What are you doing to renew your spirit? And, are you busy or are you deeply engaged?

P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. And, you can read past issues of my musings at my blog @bowtieadmission


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