I can see how what I said a week ago can be a point of contention. At some point in a convoluted discussion among several students and the professor I had made the comment that sometimes students may know more than a professor; the one at the bottom of the totem pole may have a better grasp on the matter than the one at the top. Naturally, that can be upsetting to some people if they do not let the other possibilities come to mind. However I had not expected to be called out on it this evening.
Professor comes up to me before the session began and said, “What was it you said last week? That the intern knows more than the supervisor?” I countered with, “Well, I didn’t say it like that. I can’t recall exactly. Why?” I hedged. He’s defensive; getting into my full line of vision, dominating the physical and social space around me. Plus, I would like to get the full context of the matter again – what exactly was it that I had said that put him on the defensive? Was he interpreting it in a different manner than I had perceived myself as stating it? He did not offer clarification. He’s trying to establish order, and I can only assume that he feels that I am questioning his judgment, knowledge and experience in the field. I did not have the opportunity because he took the pause in my words (when I’m still thinking and reflecting to come up with a response!!) to say “I’ve never had an intern that knew more than me. It doesn’t work that way.”
Well let me tell you what does work that way. He comes from the psychoanalytical Freudian training and paradigm. From what has been mentioned in class he does stand behind the current paradigm of EBP (evidence-based practice) and a slight eclectic mix of other modern theories and perspectives. However, what I had insinuated with my comment last week, and I was unable to defend, is that other fields and professions have their own perspectives and paradigms. I’m very EBP, along with multisystemic theory, systems theory, positive psychology, empowerment and the strengths perspective. I move within these with a lot of ease. I see things from many perspectives; many facets. A student or an intern may not know or comprehend more, but understand a different view or facet. A student can appear to know more than a professor because they are not caged in the paradigm.
Professor is focused on tradition and principles, and often makes statements that draw attention to “how things should be done, and are done.” He’s mentioned that therapeutic practices are not to differ from what everyone else is doing; well, Rogers and others broke away from the behavioralists. Rogers disagreed that people were merely functioning on conditioning (classical, intermittent, interval & ratio), and formulated the humanistic approach that incorporated emotions and reactions; a further extension from Rogers was existential psychology. Sometimes there has to be people who break away from the norm, the “way it has to be done” in order for there to be growth. For my Professor, principles are not rules; rules may be broken but not principles. I understand the concept, but support it only so far, as can be noted.
On several occasions he has stressed the appropriate need for joining professional organizations. He has pushed local, state and national organizations. The class he is teaching is one of the introductory courses, yet he pushes this need to professionally belong more than any of the other professors in the program. Belonging-ness: making sure that students are not put off by him, always making nice. At times, appearing more as a comedian than a serious professor; he’s ingratiating himself: he has to belong.