I have been working diligently on a sabbatical proposal for about a month. (A sabbatical at my school means receiving time off of one’s regular work [for me, teaching], while still being paid, to do a project benefitting the person taking the sabbatical and the school.)
I want to share some pieces of the proposal with you. The part you’re about to read is the introduction. It shows a bit about what influences me to create the type of project I’m developing.
I am an idealist. The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator provides me with the 4-letter initialism INFJ, and psychologist David Keirsey, in his book Please Understand Me II, pulls out the second and third letters (NF) and labels this group idealists. One way I fit the idealist type is that I can be very critical. I see what is not working within a system, and I want to change it. I want to reach for that ideal, the perfect system. I know achieving perfection is impossible; for me, though, reaching towards it helps me to get closer to what I know is possible.
My idealism is one reason I resonate so well with my study of Marshall Rosenberg’s communication system Nonviolent Communication. The study of NVC, and the worldview it encompasses, works with my idealism to help me articulate my understanding of how people interact in the world. One premise of NVC is that the great motivator is need. Everyone is striving to fulfill a need. They may strive to meet that need in a positive way such as giving a friend a hug, they may also strive to meet the need in a violent way such as punching someone. In both instances, the person may attempt to fulfill a need for physical contact—the former behavior will likely create emotional connection and the latter will likely create emotional distance, but both are strategies people employ. If I understand that all behavior is need-driven, I can look beyond the behavior to have compassion for the person striving to fulfill the need.
Studying NVC has also helped me learn to see the possibility of both/and instead of either/or. Though NVC can create peace and solve conflict, the goal is connection. When there is connection between two people, they both benefit. It is not that one person has fulfilled a need and the other is left unfulfilled. It is possible in so many situations for both, or all three or four parties, to have their needs met at the same time. Determining the need can be a challenging process by which the parties dig deep to uncover the need (instead of being stuck in the wants or grasping the only solution that is visible at the time). Once we understand the need, we learn there are many, many ways to fulfill it. If we use our creativity, we end up with a win-win-win situation.
The knowledge that I am an idealist and the worldview I hold (as I explain by discussing NVC) express themselves in all areas of my life, including my work as a professor. They allow me to clearly see some problems in education and provide me with vision and a strategy by which to develop a solution.
I have had “write a sabbatical proposal” on my yearly goals list at work for at least 3 years. When I first decided I wanted to do a proposal, I simply wanted time off of work. That wasn’t enough of a reason for my college to give me paid time off though, so I started trying to figure out what I wanted to do for sabbatical. Last year, I simply had a list of things I could do. I hadn’t found a project I really wanted to dig into, so writing the proposal seemed like a waste of time.
Over this past year, I have kept my eyes open for opportunities and when some presented themselves, I grabbed them. I finally had enough to write out the proposal. I have a project I really, really want to do and really fits with who and where I am today in terms of work. If the ease of writing this proposal is a sign, I’m definitely right on time.
Next week, I’ll share a bit about my struggles as a teacher and what project I am proposing to move me foreword.
Peace Out and In,
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