Friday, July 29, 2016

Maybe it's me . . . Missing the Boat

To "miss the boat" is to miss the point of or fail to understand: 

               Several years ago I was working for an employment agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The agency had sent me on a temporary assignment to state's Department of Family and Child Services (DCFS) -  a department seemingly to be more dysfunctional than many of its clients.  I was told the assignment would be for only a couple of months - but I was there for almost two years and off and on for almost the next five.

                As I recall, I made a suggestion of sending out letters to newly adoptive parents or potential adoptive parents - I can't remember the reason - but in my mind it seemed like it would be a start for whatever it was the department was trying to accomplish.  I was asked to write the letter and send it to the chair of the department who actually worked in a different building (I think there were three locations for the DCFS workers who were supposed to function as one, but that didn't happen) to meet his approval.

                I printed the letter on the stationary with the departments letter head - the same stationary I had used in the one-two years I was assigned.  I explained to the chair why I was sending the letter and what I was trying to accomplish.  And did it meet his approval?  His feedback was less than productive.  His response was to the letterhead itself. (As if I really had control over that - I wasn't even a state employee!) The letterhead on stationary bore the name of Governor Norman Bangerter who had served as governor from 1985 to 1993.  I don't recall what year it was.  1994? 1995?  Mike Leavitt was the governor from 1993 to 2003. 

                It's true that I hadn't bothered reading the letterhead at anytime  I had ever sent anything out.  I had no reason to.  The stationary had always been handed to me along with a list of instructions on what was to be done with it. It didn't even occur to me that I might be using old stationary.  Apparently, it was never updated.  Again, that was not my fault.  I had no control over the stupid letterhead.

                I remember feeling annoyed by his response - totally missing the boat on the content of the letter. The words that needed to be sent out - regardless of the stationary! I took this matter to the secretary who laughed at the error that had been made for well over a year and a half.  In this post I said it had been two mayors.  Perhaps the mayor's name had appeared on the letterhead as well. I don't remember.  All I remember was feeling frustration as the issue at hand was not addressed.  And okay, I was a little bit amused by the error of the department.

                Recently there has been a similar situation which triggered this situation.  But first let me back up a bit to set the stage.   As I mentioned in this post, online schooling  hasn't appealed to me. I would like to get a part time job just so we have a bit of extra income. However, jobs seem hard to come by in this particular area where I live.  I've applied to be a cashier at several places, but the idea of being on my feet all day does not appeal to me.  I'd rather have a desk job.  So I have decided to go back to school (online) to get my degree in accounting.

                Roland signed me up to start classes on June 27 - even though I said I wanted to wait until after school started for Jenna.  Nevertheless,  I was told that my classes would start June 27 - which they did - without me.  A glitch in the system put me two days behind. 

                The courses run for only for weeks.  Each week the student is expected to participate in discussion, turn in an assignment and fulfill an assessment (which is usually a quiz or sometimes another assignment) Thus there is much reading material and/or video required.  I am a visual person.  I like someone to show me what keys to punch and explain why.  It takes me a lot longer to process words from a manual than just one week.  So the classes do move quickly.   Thus far I seem to be doing well, but still frustrated with the reading part.

                So I'm taking this required Philosophy class because knowledge in one's major is not enough (in my case knowing how to do bookkeeping or spreadsheets) is not enough.  A student (potential employee) needs soft skills to be part of a team (employer, co-workers) and so we have to learn all of that - which is a good thing and probably should be addressed at every college.  Employees need to learn how to work with one another and maintain professionalism in the workplace.

                There is no video.  There is this article given as a reading assignment. I think it reads almost like Dr. Seuss (except without the humor) I have not even made it to stage 4 and my brain hurts.  What the heck are Richard Paul and Linda Elder even talking about? There have been many times during my adult life that I have asked my brother, Corey, to read something for me and then explain it to me in English.  I emailed him the website and pleaded that if he had the time, would he please read and explain.  He did.  Corey has helped me out of binds a countless number of times.  I feel like I owe him more than just gratitude.

                The instructor does a live lecture each week and then makes the video available to whatever students couldn't/didn't attend and also a refresher for those of us who did go live but still need to stop and rewind.  As I had a ton of questions, I tuned in for the live lecture and asked and answered some of the questions.  The session was very helpful.  Corey called right after the session and gave me even more insight - which I really so appreciate so much.

                Corey found the article dry and hard to get through, but he was able to explain it to me. We were both able to give examples of TV or movie characters or real live examples that we know. That's how I wanted to do my assignment - by giving the examples that helped me to better understand what the each stage represents.  I was hoping to find just one movie or program to base my characters on, but ended up using examples from many sources. I picked examples of what I thought each stage represents for stages 1 to 3 but somehow felt stuck finding an example for number 4. 

                There were tears in my eyes over the frustration I felt in not being able to convey what I wanted in a formal assignment.  I know that my posts are often too wordy and I fly off the handle and move on to non-related subjects, but my writing on this blog is informal.  I still didn't know if my understanding was accurate.

                Roland, who tends to have a great understanding of many things, asked if he could assist.  I told him that his explanations are often more confusing than what I am trying to understand - which I think is why I was so excited about his comparing underwear to primer (which I mentioned in my last post)  as it seemed such a simple explanation.  I told him what it is that I was trying to accomplish and he made suggestions on how I could better format the paper or correct the grammar (he likes to change as he goes; I wait until the entire document is finished to do a spell check) and not to put the assignment in first person (which normally I don't, but was asked to include my belief about which stage I think I'm in and why - meaning it would be in first person) and giving me critique that yes, was necessary - but I had planned on correcting all of that after my thoughts came out. I was looking for critique with the content and not the format itself.  That is what made me think of the first story that I shared.   I have felt like a failure at communication for so much of my life.

                I ended up going a different direction altogether.  I still don't know about the accuracy of my understanding, but I did the best I could with my own comprehension.  I am waiting for my assignment to be graded.  Perhaps I will share the results.

                Meanwhile, I have finished submitting everything that needs to be graded on for this week.   Instead of waiting until Monday (which starts my second week of class) I decided to pry into week 2 to see if there was anything I could try and process in my mind to perhaps make myself more prepared than with this week (in case it was/is as confusing as the "Critical Thinking" article) One of the suggested examples given for the discussion was to assess this test or one like it.   

                I didn't realize the detail involved.  341 questions! Glad I got that early start! The great thing about having taken the suggested emotional test was seeing the growth and change that have taken place in my own personal life.  The website did not give me the end results, nor do I plan on joining the site or pay for the results.  Just knowing what my answers would have been less than two years ago  as opposed to what they are now is a revelation to me.  I have grown more than I had thought and have become a better and happier person and continue to strive upon improving myself.   I'm certainly a lot more relaxed. I like who I am.  

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