Lifelong learners + personal development. When does our ‘job’ end?

I’ve often heard people in student affairs refer to themselves as “lifelong learners.”

Is this just another buzz-word (buzz-phase?) though? Have you really stopped to think about what this means?

To me this implies that we should be constantly seeking to better ourselves and the people around us. Student affairs folk love to talk about student development, and our role in assisting our students with their journey towards building their identities. So what happens when those students complete their undergraduate degree? Are they done developing?

Most people will probably agree that development doesn’t end there. It’s a lifelong process, an ever evolving goal that you can make strides towards but should never complete. So when do we stop caring about others’ development? Do we only care about “student development?”

Students = Persons,  thus Student Development = Personal Development

Recently I realized I was being a bit of a hypocrite in how I treated the people around me. I often talk about being passionate about assisting students in their developmental process, but then I would roll my eyes at fellow graduate students for various comments or actions. If I’m really passionate about helping people develop themselves, shouldn’t that cross over to my peers and other people around me?

I have been making an effort to have more prodding conversations with the people around me about why they think, say, or do certain things. It’s definitely more time consuming, but I’ve already had some really great conversations that I’ve found myself learning a lot from as well. I am committed to lifelong learning, after-all. 😉

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Do you think this is a common problem? Is it even problematic to not transfer what would normally be viewed as “part of the job” with students to our interactions with our co-workers and friends?

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About justinetozer

I’m a writer who seldom writes anything other than e-mails, to-do lists, and thank you cards. When I do post on here, I write to clarify my thoughts, reflect, share, and learn. Since I’m a bit of a Type A personality, most posts will be related to work: Residence Life/Student Affairs.
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2 Responses to Lifelong learners + personal development. When does our ‘job’ end?

  1. Matt Henderson (@CareerCounMatt) says:

    This is an interesting post and is something that I can certainly relate with. I think a lot of the time “student development theory” gets lost in the sense that development doesn’t just happen in college of course but throughout the lifespan. I’d like to see a SDT focus on integration with other lifelong theories (ie Erikson, others). Admittedly I am no expert on SDT, but have taken courses in human/lifespan development. Certainly worth more discussion, I’m open to learning more and hearing others’ opinions.

    • justinetozer says:

      I guess I wasn’t looking at it through a theory lens, but rather the holistic process of personal growth. I like theories as a tool to better understanding specific aspects of general student development, but similar to how you said development doesn’t just happen in college nor can one theory encompass the entire student. By nature they must be more focused, and students usually won’t completely fit into the generalized mold. Hence why it’s so important to focus on the particular person’s needs 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

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