Teach the Book
Woah! It’s been so long since I logged in here that I almost forgot my password! Vicissitudes, they’re killer, man! I have a hard time speaking up during times of transition. It feels like all I can do to just hang onto my home base until things have settled down into some sort of routine again. Life is crazy busy right now, and I’m going to be half brain-dead for the next month or more, but finally there is a bit of a routine starting to develop again.
I didn’t come here to tell you all the sordid or boring details about my life, though. I came here because while I need to be studying for my first exam tomorrow morning & getting a jump start on my paper due Monday, not to mention starting this ridiculous group project… right now I am good. I am slightly ahead in both of my online classes and currently have 95% or better average in all three courses. My kids are off at VBS for the day (aka: wholesome, free daycare), happy and well. And I learned something pertinent today.
This morning, we took a quiz over the toughest chapter we will be covering in my social research class. I was looking over the book, trying to finish reading the chapter before class started. I had a pretty good understanding of all the concepts from class, but needed a last minute review. I may not have a degree yet, but I’ve had enough college courses to know that the textbooks are generally largely ignored by the professors. Yeah, you can read through them if you want, but the prof is going to teach you whatever the hell he wants.
So, here I am reading through this book that we haven’t referred to once yet (and which would’ve cost me a small fortune if I hadn’t rented it online) when I come across something really interesting. In class, we had been discussing examples of a specific concept which the prof told us was often really hard to understand. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on it from our discussions, but when I looked at the book I realized that there was this whole other side to the concept that I had completely missed. The book gave very clear examples and suddenly everything made complete sense to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing my professor’s teaching skills or his understanding of the concept at all. Rather, I recognized an error I often commit in my work with sponsees. My prof was attempting to teach us in a way that he best understood the subject matter. Instead of presenting the material in a matter-of-fact way as in a textbook which has gone through review boards and editors to ensure that the material is accurate and pertinent, we were provided the material through the filter of one man’s experience.
When I work with others, I usually do reference the Big Book often, but perhaps my guidance isn’t as true to the book as it should be. Perhaps I sometimes rely too heavily on personal experience, what worked for me & what I have heard works for others. Everybody’s got a different style. I’ve been sponsored by a few different women (and one man) and each of them had their own thing. This one wants to just read through the book; this one just wants to make lists; this one works out of a workbook; this one relies on her personal experiences.
I’ve heard, “I only know how to sponsor the way I’ve been sponsored.” Well, hell, I’ve been sponsored all sorts of ways! This story helped me with this part; this list helped me with this part; this workbook gave me a whole different idea that freed me up during this part, etc. Maybe sometimes I turn to some of these things too quickly and present them to my girls before referencing back to the Big Book, which is the ultimate outline of the best proven course of action in our journey of sobriety.
Maybe sometimes I let my ego get the best of me, thinking I know better than the book how to do this thing. (Ego? Me? Surely not!)
Today, I got a little taste of humility. While yes, my personal experience is my best tool in aiding another through recovery, I have to make sure I’m not allowing them to rely upon me for their sobriety. The book has been tried and tested for 75 years. Me, I’ve barely been able to keep myself sober at times over the last 5 years, 11 months and 9 days.
And now, I must get back to the crazy world of academia….