What is the difference between traditional academic advising and mentoring for vocational discernment? Is the latter simply an extension of the former, a way of advising “the whole student”? Or is mentoring for vocation constitutionally different enough to warrant its own set of reflections? Continue reading
On the subject of friendship, the following quote from Henry David Thoreau seems to be popular:
For now, we can overlook the fact that this is a slight alteration of what Thoreau actually wrote (!) and instead pause to consider what it was that he was aiming to capture about the nature of friendship. I want to explore the connection between friendship and vocation, and especially the role that genuine friendships can play in the vocational discernment of young adults. Continue reading
To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, “Mentoring kids is a difficult matter. / It isn’t just one of your holiday games.” Many obstacles confront undergraduate advising and mentoring. Faculty are pressed for time and advising often becomes a mere cog in the course registration machine. Colleges sell meaningful mentoring to students but rarely offer the needed resources to support robust advising. Students expect ready answers and affirming words — they want their advising to be “warm and fuzzy.”
Moreover, we tend to think of advising and mentoring as an individualistic endeavor; its goals include helping the student to navigate college and to find a personally suitable direction in life. But what if we looked beyond the student’s life-long personal fulfillment, and sought to make mentoring a socially transformative endeavor? What would this require Continue reading
It’s difficult to think productively about the future when the world seems pitted against your very well-being and existence. That is how many of my students are feeling these days.
Their hopelessness is earned, their despondency legitimate. It is not born of fragility or a lack of resiliency, as some pundits of higher education often want to suggest. My otherwise hard-working and motivated students are demoralized and exhausted.
And so are most of my colleagues at the small college where I teach — as are most of my friends who teach, in one capacity or another, spread all over the country. And so am I. Many of us trying to understand our own devotion to what seems, at least at the moment, to be a lost cause.
I have previously written about Continue reading
In the work of helping students discern their vocation, I have found myself thwarted by a certain type. Tell me whether he sounds familiar to you.
Jeff has glided through life, keeping himself busy with schoolwork and perhaps a few extra-curricular activities, but has nothing that provides him with a sense of accomplishment or connection to others. He has invested a great deal of his time over the years to entertaining himself, playing video games, surfing the web, and binge-watching television shows. When I press Jeff about what is important to him, in an effort to try to get a sense of his underlying commitments, it can begin to seem as though nothing is there. Jeff is not depressed, and in fact he seems quite happy to move into his future continuing to fill his days with entertainment.
What does vocational discernment look like when you are seemingly “starting from nothing”?
My usual approach begins with an exploration of my students’ fundamental commitments — getting underneath their interests and aptitudes in order to get a sense of what makes them tick. For many of my students, Continue reading
Writing in 1908, in part responding to what he saw as the problematic and radical individualism of American culture, Josiah Royce suggested that the whole moral life can be centered on the singular virtue of loyalty. Loyalty, as Royce defined it, is the “willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause” [from The Philosophy of Loyalty (Vanderbilt UP, 1995) 9]. In the same work, Royce goes on to spell out how a “cause” can serve as the overarching focus of human lives, connecting them to others through concerted, coordinated action.
My hunch—an idea that I would like to pursue through this project—is that Royce’s work can serve as a resource for vocational discernment because Continue reading