A few Cowley College teachers and I went over to Tulsa last Friday for a session on one test publisher’s alternative approach to predicting success for entering college students. We drove a bit over two hours each way for a two-hour presentation at Tulsa Community College’s Northeastern Campus. The presenter did right well, managing to minimize the commercial aspects and maximize the research, reasoning and thoughtful implications.
We did right well, too, minimizing the effects of the road noise and maximizing the opportunity for a limited time of profoundly professional discourse. We filled in the other four hours of travel with friendly banter and getting to know one another. Truth be told, my own motivation for the trip probably had more to do with that than with the Tulsa part.
Road trips, along with all sorts of potential for PG-13 movies that should be rated “R,” have an almost unrivaled capacity for forming and strengthening collegial ties. Away from the office, away from the expectations of routine and absent the constant self-consciousness, people tend to ease off on the demands that we put on ourselves and one another.
The bumps and rumbling of the road, the view of miles of prairie hills and the occasional visual prompts for personal reflection all lead to a sort of smorgasbord of sharing: marriage, family, professional paths, personal likes and dislikes and the various perspectives of all the places we’ve seen and the people we’ve been.
Of course, there’s always the risk of being a tad too honest, revealing a political bent of one sort or another, but as long as you’re with decent people, the risk is pretty low and the tolerance level is pretty high. As for me, I had the privilege of being with some mighty fine people.
I left with a good opinion of all of them and came back with an even higher one.
Somehow, it got me to thinking that it wasn’t just the lessons and lectures that got Jesus and his disciples bound up so close together. I’m guessing that the walking from Jerusalem to Galilee, the treks up the backsides of those lonely mountains and the long, slow meals away from the eyes of the maddening crowd were a big part of it.
One key difference: Unlike the Master and his students, I’m pretty sure that I learned more from the folks I was with than they learned from me. And I’m pretty comfortable with that. Not expecting me to be the smartest person in the room sure takes some pressure off of me.
And spares everybody else from some disappointment, too.