In the Old Testament, Jeremiah was called to deliver a message that few people were willing to heed. Although faithful to his mission, he and his message were rejected by the people he was called to help. He took the rejection personally and often questioned and despised what he had to do. Although lonely and seemingly depressed, he begrudgingly carried on his work.
Since my last blog post, I have also been rejected among men. My academic program and position have been cut from my university and I have failed to receive a job offer from four different universities with leadership studies programs–two without an interview, one after an opening interview, and one after two interviews. And while I am not depressed, I am saddened by the decisions of the university and search committees. They just don’t know.
As described in other blog posts, the power of these learning experiences cannot be fully known until they are experienced. Trying to described the beauty of a sunset can never take the place of actually seeing one. Likewise, trying to grasp the power in a moment of athletic or musical performance achievement is impossible to fully describe and understand with just words. The only way to truly understand those things is to experience them yourselves.
Several years ago, I got to a point where my words were insufficient to describe to parents and students the things that we did through our program. The diverse array of classes, the exceptional trips and visits, the service projects and all of our other extracurricular activities were too much to describe. I needed something else to help others understand what we do. I used the power of pictures and videos and jumped into social media with both feet. Facebook, which we had used internally as a communication forum, suddenly became a way to inform the world of the things we do. Facebook page
As other social media platforms arose, so did consumer tastes and preferences. Younger people moved off of Facebook and their parents moved on. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and other platforms came into being that attracted younger people–people in the high school and college-aged demographic. I moved into the Instagram world as well. Instagram doesn’t have abilities to share videos like Facebook, but has other strengths. Instagram has been a nice tool for helping spread the word and inform others of our offerings using visual stories. Instagram page
Videos are also powerful ways to convey stories and experiences. While limited in their ability to relay emotions, they can capture sound and provide a wider visual story. I began making documentary and recap videos of our extraordinary learning experiences as way to remember them and to show others so that they might see and better understand what we do. YouTube is the forum for storing and sharing our videos. YouTube channel
Our videos, pictures, and social media posts only serve to help us tell our stories if people look at them. My recent experiences of interacting with administrators and search committees convinces me that they are clueless about our social media accounts and the loads of information presented through them. Despite invitations and exhortations to learn about the unique and exceptional learning opportunities available to students through my program, there has been very little evidence that any of those people even take a look. Matrix-based programs don’t have social media news. Matrix-educated administrators and search committee members don’t have clues that education exists beyond the traditional ways they’ve only experienced.
As I prepare for a final year at my current institution, I have begun inviting students from across campus to join us next year in our course offerings. The videos, pictures, and stories that I am using to invite students brings back strong memories to me–and not just memories of facts and details, but of feelings and emotions and the intensity of the moments experienced together in earlier learning environments. Those students who shared those moments from earlier classes understand the power of those experiences–their memories extend far beyond words. They’ve been beyond the Matrix.
I’m not sure what the next chapter will be in my life. I only know that life beyond the Matrix is the best place to be and that the forces that work to keep people operating in traditional modes of thinking are very powerful. I will symbolically weep for those who are content to exist in their worlds of limited understanding, but will continue push ahead with my messages and methods of learning beyond the Matrix.