I’ve been asked to share my story or path to where I sit professionally now. It truly has more to do with people than with anything else. Tracing back leads to different rabbit holes, with no beginning, but I’ll try.
At a recent campus event, a student overheard me saying that my undergraduate degree was in religion. A religion major herself, about to graduate, she came up to me and asked me whether I thought that degree was worth it, and did it help me do what I wanted to do.
I have never regretted doing an undergraduate degree in something that is not thought of as an employable major. This same student told me how she was thinking of going into social work, and went on to explain why this made sense, with a slight question in the background “does this make sense?” I’ve always thought of my undergrad years as random. A time when I had the freedom and privilege to study anything I wanted, not necessarily connected to my career trajectory, except for the fact that I needed a degree to do most of what I’ve gone on to do.
I’ve always thought of and explained staying in education as feeling like I get to contribute to the good parts of our society. It started with that, liking the idea that I got to spend my time helping people learn things. This got more complicated when teaching English in other countries, to students who didn’t have much of a choice. Then it changed to being about building relationships in order to better understand the individuals I was working with.
So I come back to the newly graduated religion major student, who unlike me, was already connecting what she learned to what she might want to do. For me, who hadn’t seen the connected path, in retrospect the dots do connect. As a young adult I was very interested in finding meaning in life. I wanted to read and talk about it. I wanted to find out what others had thought and were thinking about it. I found it fascinating to have professors so knowledgeable and entrenched in a particular practice of a particular religion, who were also still questioning and unsure of their own beliefs.
Now, later in my life, I still think about the meaning in life, but in a less philosophical way. We make choices, and through those choices we make meaning. Education, although both under siege and dramatically changing in a capitalist society, is a place with space to make meaning. It is a place we can study, think about, and talk about problems in society and visions of what we want want society to be. And technology? In an often digital dualist landscape, I work toward understanding our relationship with technology. It is a main part of my meaning making, and this is how I understand critical instructional design.