What is work? and, the philosophy statement.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of “work” a lot lately.  Is work what you get paid to do, what you’re passionate about, or are you one of those lucky people who gets to have both?  I recently read this article on The Daily Beast that gives some thoughts on Labor Day and it’s origins.  Apparently it’s not just about white pants and hot dogs as summer draws to its end.

For me, Labor Day is pretty symbolic.  By that, I mean, it’s my ONLY holiday off.  Working for a public university I get a lot of time off for the holidays and a lot of time off in the summer, and in between are two brutal sixteen week stretches.

Yeah. Brutal.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Labor Day a month after Labor Day, because I’m in the middle of that stretch right now.  Save two days for Thanksgiving, Labor Day and MLK Day are it for us.

But even more than this glorious opportunity to sleep past 5:30am on a week day, “Labor Day” has serious implications that we work too hard.  So for us Americans, here’s a day (A day) to drink beer and barbeque.

Thanks for that.

I’m not opposed to work, I guess I’m just opposed to being forced to do something I don’t want to do just to make a buck.  It’s not the work that I’m against, it’s the perpetual need to generate dollars at the expense of my time, my energy, and even, at times, my dignity.

What’s the difference between work, my work, and a job?

If you’re really lucky those three arrows all point to the same place.  I’ve thought about this from the perspective all three of the things that I am: an educator, a dancemaker, and a writer, only one of which really generates any significant income for me.  Finding the why of what I do, especially in the things I don’t get paid for, means figuring out what my Work (capital W) really is.  The rest is just a time suck that helps me pay my rent.

Or not.

I’m fortunate of late in that I’ve been able to peace-meal together jobs (meaning, the things I get paid for) that are actually part of the bigger scope of “my Work”.  All of this is wrapped up in a tidy little statement that I’ve been working on for my teaching portfolio (ignore the dust, it’s under major construction).

This philosphy statement was the hardest four paragraphs that have ever emerged from this keyboard, but nonetheless it’s essential in figuring out how all the puzzle pieces of my life, jobs, skill-set, and passions fit together.  I think everyone should do it, even if you aren’t a teacher or and artist or particularly need a philosophy.

And, without further ado, here’s mine:

As an educator with professional experience in both the arts and sciences, I am convinced of the need for more integration of evidence-based practices in the arts, and more time-tested, somatic, experiential learning in academia.  To that end, I seek out opportunities to collaborate with peers and mentors to develop curricula that is effective and efficient.

I am passionate about the health of the dancer, and the majority of my work lends itself to understanding and articulating the body as it relates to dance.  Too often, the great work that is done in the scientific realm on dancers does not trickle down to its practitioners.

I believe it is my mission to use my experiences in dance and kinesiology to form an alliance between the two fields, with the ultimate goal of creating understanding and awareness around dance education and dancer health.  I believe that principles of educational psychology and learning are ubiquitous and should be implemented in dance classrooms as well as academic classrooms.  I believe that dance is a natural human tendancy, a healing art, and a means of discourse akin to any language.

Ultimately, my talent lies in my words, and in my ability to communicate, moreso than my ability to tendu.  Therefore, I resolve to be the messenger between these two worlds and further bridge the gap between experience and evidence.

How do we feel about this? Do you have suggestions that could make it better?

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