Sunday, February 7, 2010

Knowledge is....

I am a new fan of the Franklin Planner. Whitney and I got them near the beginning of our marriage, as we realized that our responsibilities were not only to ourselves and required that we would need to be aware of each others' needs and the needs of our household.

Part of this my planner is a little bookmark that keeps track of the day I'm on, but also has me set goals for myself with the different "hats" that I wear in my life. At the beginning of our marriage that was quite easy since I only had two hats: "be a good husband" and "pass my preliminary exams." Now, however, the number of hats I have to wear has dramatically multiplied: husband, teacher, conductor, dissertation writer, reviewer, conference proposal researcher, job applier, and the list seems to keep growing! Interestingly enough, in true "Covey" style, the bookmark suggests that you set four personal goals to maintain your sanity: a physical goal, a spiritual goal, a social goal, and an intellectual goal.

I struggle the most with the intellectual goal. For me it seems that so much of what I do already is intellectual. Pouring through books and articles to be able to see how they fit (or don't) into my concept of my dissertation, or my conference proposal, or my article for the Choral Journal. It seems like a lot of work to suggest that I should on some other level be increasing my intellectual skill.

On a different note, I recently attended a presentation by a hopeful candidate for the School of the Arts at the University where I am currently employed. His presentation was supposed to center around his vision for the School of the Arts. He definitely demonstrated his academic knowledge as he presented us with an 18-page paper that summarized the history of the words "arts," "university," and "vision." While it was an impressive analysis, it didn't seem to fit with a School that is geared for performance and preparing future secondary educators and showed that his knowledge was (in my opinion) ill-suited for our needs. It seems in this case that knowledge is not power.

As I have been diving deep into the job market and doing my best to find some full-time employment that will support a future family, I have been living by that very phrase: knowledge is power. The more that I can know about a university, the search committee, and the job-search process in the choral academia, the better prepared I will be to say the right things at the right time to the right people and I will find the job that is best for us. On the other side, the more that the search committee can know about me - my skills and my interests - the more likely that they will see how well suited I am for the position.

I am beginning to doubt how much knowledge really is power. After spending an evening of reading through articles that are designed to give tips on how to manage the hiring process, I think that my increased knowledge has led to more doubt: doubt in the effectiveness of my letters of recommendation, doubt in my ability to fund on-campus interviews (one article discussed how less and less campuses are willing to fund interviews), doubt in the effectiveness of my cover letters or in my tactics for helping myself stand out from the deluge of job applicants. The doubt discourages me about the fact that I will ever find a job that is right. It seems to me that - in this case - knowledge is not power, but fear.

Then I turn to the knowledge that I have received from my Heavenly Father as I have turned to Him in this whole process. The information He gives me is so little so rarely. To summarize it, he says "you will get the job that is right for you." I can derive from that two assumptions: I WILL get a job, and I don't necessarily need to change from the course I am headed (that is, shipping off several applications a month) to be able to get to the job that I will get in the future. When I trust that message, I can act with courage instead of doubt in knowing that the path I am treading will lead me to a place where my family and I will be successful and my family will be happy.

For once in my life, I think that my academic success has much more to do with FAITH than with KNOWLEDGE!

How do you depend on faith when you have no knowledge to back it up?


Kaija said...

A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this. I know it all to well. And, by the way, I don't have a job in hand -- I have a short teaching opportunity in hand -- very different! The only way to depend on faith is without knowledge to support it. The doubt that comes through more "knowledge" as you study isn't doubt bred of knowledge. It is doubt about yourself bred by knowledge of the world. But confidence in yourself is based on your faith in Jesus Christ -- that the knowledge given by the Holy Ghost outweighs your human ammalgamation of the knowledge of other humans. The faith is trusting in His voice rather than the voice of the world. Friends keep reminding me it is no good to compare my insides to other peoples outsides. That's what you are doing -- you are seeing peoples outsides and deciding you don't measure up. Take your own advice. They will hire you to do what you have been doing :)

Kerri said...

You have GOT to be kidding me...I found Bryson Mortensen? I really found my dear friend Bryson Mortensen? My FIRST friend at BYU. My true friend for all those years. Amazing. And he, like me, has forfeited the FB crowd and surrendered to blogging. And he like me lived in IL--WHAT THE HECK were you doing in IL and NOT having my family know about that!!! Steve and I have lived here for 4 years and would have LOVED to see you! I can't BELIEVE it!!!! If you and Whitney don't mind, I'd love to catch up on your previous posts and see how life has been for you! You must know, I still believe 100% in your abilities, your talents, and your dreams. Keep it up.

Kerri said...

(sorry for that profile pic...we were at a water park (hence the swimwear)..I've changed it to be a more appropriate picture. My sincere apologies)

jeanette said...

All I can say--matching Franklins? Adorable.

Emily said...

Hi brother bryson, I hope that you and Whitney are doing great.
Always had the feeling that you would end up with a great job. I sent you an email response to your post.