In distant kinship to midwives and doulas, I help graduate student individuals and groups give birth to new ideas and new self-/group-concepts. It’s up to the person or group to decide what direction they want to grow in, and then I help them develop their capacities. That might be about having new ideas, developing a more complete understanding of a problem, nurturing compassion for difficulties, practicing new skills, or committing to a bold action.
The turtle grandmas are shepherds, protectors, and keepers of space for the nestlings. They do pastoral work, watching over the nests and being present before, during, and after the turtles hatch. They facilitate the flow of nature.
I want PhDs to be able to communicate about their skills, interests, values, preferences, and strengths: who they are, what they need, and what fulfills them. Self-knowledge helps PhDs make conscious choices in all aspects of their lives that are aligned; they will know why they are doing something and whether they are acting in alignment with their values and commitments. When graduate students and postdocs are consciously engaged in the curation of all aspects of their lives, their academic work can be in balance and harmony with rest, play, movement, creativity, friendships, family, and community.
Graduate students, postdocs, and colleagues are contemplating change, a process of dramatic and emotional self-examination, assessing their environment, weighing options, evaluating their aid systems, and assembling their supportive relationships. Their imaginations are wild with possibilities. They know they are approaching a choice to voice what they want for their true selves. They know they are preparing to, but aren’t quite ready to, decide whether to let a past version of themselves go and a new version emerge. I hold space for graduate students, postdocs and professional development coaches who are contemplating, considering, preparing for, and committing to change.
I participated in these conference wanderings as a temporarily physically disabled person. I acknowledge many layers of privilege of my social position. Also, I hope that, through my social position, I can raise awareness about ways we can do meetings that are more accommodating and inclusive. Knowing that I was experiencing pain and tiredness in ways most others weren’t, I had to learn to self-advocate to make my life manageable to attend these events. I told my friends in advance what to expect from me and what help they could offer. And I offered myself opportunities for more rest, more solitude, a place to sit, ice, more time between locations, and quiet protected time to talk one-on-one.
First, I want readers to notice how we currently serve as smoky mirrors to each other in many of our communities, from Don Manuel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. Second, I want to offer a strategy for being a truer mirror to people in your communities, from Ora North’s I Don’t Want to Be an Empath Anymore.
If the wrong person knew our dreams, they could out-compete us, drive us out of the market, and squash our dreams. At the same time, no one can help us and support us in our dreams if they don’t know about it.
On the radio on a drive to pick up dinner last night, the interviewee mentioned having a “treasure chest of responses” in regards to their parenting. Not a toolbox. A treasure chest. That shift in word choice changed a lot about my perspective on the relationship of teacher-student and facilitator-instructor.
Parrhesia is an ancient Greek concept of an obligation to speak the truth for common good.
Truth: Say what you know to be true
Frankness: Say all you know
Criticism: Criticize those in positions of power
Duty: Obliged to speak the truth
Danger: Speak the truth despite the risk
For most people, orientations are likely their first and last interaction with the teaching center. A subset of people take advantage of a consultation or three to talk through a specific teaching challenge, draft a new approach, reflect, and revise. I contend that the learning community is the Golden Ticket™ to your teaching center. If your CTL has one for graduate students specifically, it’s where the really great CTL stuff is.