June 30, 2023
Thanks to Alissa Simon, HMU Tutor, for today’s post.
Back in the 90s, I spent a lot of time watching ESPN. Back then, I thought that Dan Patrick and Stuart Scott were untouchable. Fast forward a few decades, and although I no longer watch much television, I still occasionally enjoy listening to the Dan Patrick Show. I don’t listen so much for the sports news as the light-hearted attitudes, camaraderie, and humor. Dan Patrick often disagrees with his staff. Sometimes they bicker like school children. But at the end of the day, they show deep respect to each other. I like this model of media. It’s not garish or outlandish, it doesn’t overdress the subject, and they poke fun at themselves as often as they do anybody else. So while I definitely don’t hold a candle to their sports knowledge (and my guess is that DP might even give me a run for my money on literary knowledge), I simply enjoy the banter and the subject.
I also think that Dan Patrick has a gift with interviews. Rather than entering a debate, which illustrates the opposite of listening, Dan Patrick usually engages in actual conversation. He often knows the subject as well as his guest and offers insight when possible, but he also excels at listening. When he disagrees with someone he states his opinion clearly and unemotionally. His approach is direct, honest, and engaging. Though very different programs, his style reminds me a little bit of Krista Tippett’s: honest, direct, open, and thoughtful. Since I spend so much time in discussion, I find myself gravitating towards these traits. They offer examples that we all might want to incorporate in our daily lives.
Most Fridays at Harrison Middleton University include a faculty meeting. The purpose of these meetings, however, is to discuss literature. The meetings mirror the camaraderie that I feel from the DP Show. Open-minded discussion is so important to our university that it’s a main tenet of our mission statement. Not only do we model discussion with students, but these faculty meetings present the chance to practice what we preach. The group of Tutors at Harrison Middleton University are gracious, curious, honest, and open-minded. We pick apart a text in an attempt to understand the author from the author’s point of view. We listen, discuss, agree, and disagree. In other words, we work together as much as we work apart. This nature of training fosters both a sense of teamwork and of independence.
Teamwork might seem like the antithesis of independence, but it’s absolutely not true. Rather, people gain confidence in conversations which encourage someone who might otherwise be reserved to speak up. This self-confidence allows us to ask all questions – even silly ones – in an attempt to better understand an author or new idea. Sharing independent thoughts works well in trusted groups where trust is the key.
Each member of the HMU faculty brings a different lens to the table. We listen to diverse opinions. We take notes about our own thoughts as well as others’ ideas. We spend time in preparation for each discussion. We rotate the leadership role. And we have fun. This training enables us to easily transition to student-led discussions where we both listen and participate. We are able to gauge a student’s understanding, interests, and abilities because we practice each week with each other. Since this level of camaraderie and trust is unique, it deserves to be highlighted. We have a special connection which adds to job satisfaction and success with students. Our Friday faculty meetings go beyond training, they are team-building, and it is time that the Tutors get a little recognition for all of the work that they put in. I just wanted to thank each one of the HMU Tutors for sharing their trust, ideas, interests, and personality. We make a great team!
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