My Professional Philosophy

(Sorry, not much technology in this post.  My blog, my rules.  And I can break those rules when I want to.)

It is common in student affairs Master’s programs for faculty to require their students reflect on and document their professional philosophies, documents that are analogous to faculty teaching philosophies.  A recent thread on CSPTALK, a listserv for student affairs faculty, focused on these professional philosophies and it inspired me to look back at the document that I wrote as a Master’s student nearly 7 years ago.

Of course, it’s interesting to see how I’ve grown as a writer and as a professional.  I cringe at some of what I wrote, especially my naive citations of “the literature.”  It’s hard to be impressed with a paper that quotes Monty Python in the second paragraph.

It greatly pleases me, however, that the fundamental ideas expressed in this 7-year old document remain sound and close to my heart:

  • We are all individuals: I continue to fervently believe this and I cite as evidence my distaste of generational stereotyping.  As someone who often conducts large-scale quantitative research, I struggle to balance this belief with the (natural) desire and need to generalize.  This belief may stem from a keen awareness of the importance of context, an awareness that some of my colleagues seem to lack or disregard at times (e.g. students who are “minorities” in some situations are not in others).  And this belief in and awareness of context is one of the primary drivers of my dissertation.
  • We are all students: I’m back in graduate school so this one is a gimme.  But what I really meant – and still mean – is that in nearly all situations we have much to learn from one another, even as experienced professionals working with undergraduates.  I think that this belief contributes to my seemingly-misplaced admiration for well-conducted qualitative research, research where the reader and researcher find themselves moving with and learning from the research subjects as the boundaries between them blur.
  • We are all teachers: This belief complements the previous one.  More specifically, I think that this belief speaks to a deeper belief in altruism, empathy, and perhaps even love.

If I had to write this all over again, I don’t think the big ideas would change, just the details (I might want to add something about empiricism or a belief in evidence but I’m not sure). Despite the immature writing, numerous APA errors, and poor grasp of (outdated) literature, I remain proud of the ideas expressed in this document.