Colleges need baggage handling systems

When something goes wrong, sometimes it's the result of what we did or did not do. Then we can say "it's my bad" and know what to do differently next time. In these instances, we learned our lesson - end of story. We can let it go easily and move on with our lives. There's no need to look back and run over the incident in our minds.

On other occasions, something goes wrong regardless of our conduct or in spite of what we did or did not do. The setback happened to us and gives us the feeling of being victimized. We had no choice in it, no control over it or no way to avoid it. We cannot take responsibility for it. But it left an indelible impression on us. It may happen again when we're least expecting it. There's no end to the story. We cling to the past as if there's no lesson to be learned and no way to move forward. What happened before make us worry incessantly as we replay the incident in our minds. We've become convinced that we're no longer as safe as we assumed we were. We learned the hard way from a troubling experience that proves it's not a bunch of paranoid crap in our minds. We've acquired a piece of emotional baggage.

An emotional baggage handling system recognizes when someone is carrying this heavy burden. Performance problems get diagnosed as symptoms of the deeper problems with past incidents. Someone's inability to get motivated, focused or committed shows up as a clear sign of unresolved issues. Emotional baggage explains why anyone appears to be:

  • a poor judge of character, situations or scams
  • prone to over-react to criticisms, betrayals or abusive remarks
  • obsessed with only the downside or upside of an opportunity
  • inclined to live with problems rather than make changes and solve them
  • incapable of understanding others or seeing how to help them get what they want
  • eager to be seen as either totally amazing or worthless
  • plagued by the effects of others being bad for his/her brain

Colleges seem like emotionally burdened ecosystems to those of us who can make this diagnosis. Many faculty members cannot relate to students' concerns, issues and performance problems. Countless students cannot function effectively in the academic or campus environments. Support staff come across as controlling rather than putting others' minds at ease. Almost everyone's baggage is doing more harm than good to each others' emotional state of being.

A baggage handling system could clean up this mess. It would spawn a consensus for how many familiar problems result from emotional baggage. It could define the challenge of resolving hidden issues and learning a story-ending lesson from what happened. It could work with the ways brains work rather than fueling anxiety, acting out or depression. It would then empower individuals to change their minds at the level of:

  1. their predictions about what always/never happens, 
  2. their expectations for how others react and construe them
  3. their beliefs what gets rewarded and punished in their world
  4. their sense of fate, of their personal identity and of the meaning of life 

In the meantime, tuitions rates will soar, dropout rates will climb, administrators will make ineffective decisions, students will lose motivation, instructors will deliver uninspired lectures and dorms will be havens for hysterics. None of this will get diagnosed as symptoms of underlying emotional baggage. Little of the remedial efforts will prove to be effective. Participants in the ecosystem will acquire more justifications for their fears and more negative experiences to internalize as emotional baggage.

Note: This post addresses issue: 9. Resolving emotional baggage
of the 15 Issues in the reform of higher ed.

No comments:

Post a Comment