Sunday, February 11, 2007

eureka springs

Both opponents and proponents say that public education institutionalizes us.

In the opinion of the former, this is a very bad thing because it makes us conformists and pedants. For the latter, it simply means that we learn how to operate in a world full of institutionalized people. In fact, someone very close to me says that the only thing he actually learned in high school was how to navigate in the real world.

Apparently I gained no such advantage in my experiences in public school. If anything, my elementary and secondary educational adventures have left me with a completely warped idea of how the world should operate, as follows:

1) that you should change subjects every hour

2) that you should be provided with feedback of some sort - hopefully positive - every couple of days or, at a bare minimum, once a week.

3) that said feedback should come in the form of an easy-to-interpret alphanumeric character.

4) that you should have large swaths of time in the warmer months set aside for laying out by the pool and/or going to the mall.

5) that the beginning of each year should be marked by a dramatic alteration in your circumstances. For the better, of course.

So it was with an extra loud, very ambivalent thump of the heart that I realized the truth about the mess that is my resume ...

I have created for myself a treadmill for the institutionalized.

Numbers 2 and 4 are effectively out of my reach in the adult world - for the time being anyways - but the others are a different story:

#1 - Change subects every hour

This I cannot do. But as a technical writer, I can change them every time I move to a new product. Score!

#3 - Feedback the form of an easy-to-interpret alphanumeric character.

In the corporate world, MBOs stand for Management By Objective ... s ...? Nobody who takes them seriously will back me up on this, but they're essentially grades. Every three months, your manager assesses how well you acheived your objectives and then s/he evaluates you on a particular scale (1-5, Good/Bad/Ugly, whatever). But in the end, whatever that scale is gets converted to a percentage. In other words, a grade. I'm not kidding. You get a grade every quarter. True, it is more than six weeks and you don't get a piece of paper to take home and get signed but still ...

Typically, companies who have MBOs give you money based on how well you meet your objectives. In other words, you get extra allowance when you make a good grade.

Apparently that's not enough for me though. Which brings me to ...

#5 - Each year should be marked by a dramatic alteration in your circumstances.

And in the professional world, there's little more dramatically altering of circumstances than a new job!

Plus, you get to accumulate a kind of fancy and elaborate report card of your own design - otherwise known as a resume. You get to carry it around with you and say to people, "Look. Look. Look what I did." Each new job - that you didn't get fired from - is like another A on your report card.

Or I should say "my report card" since I'm the one who is trying to recreate high school in my professional life.

3 Comments:

Blogger Diana Wilson said...

You have way too much time on your hands. You are out of your skull.

1:10 AM

 
Blogger zen imbecile said...

No shit. That's the point of the post, friend.

2:04 PM

 
Blogger Anne Uumellmahaye said...

This post made me smile. I often wonder why I stay employed in the industry we're in. Maybe part of what works for me is the school-like structure. Thanks for making me stop to think about what I like about my job. I needed that. :)

5:41 AM

 

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