My Story


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My Story

  1. 1. My Story Part 2 & 3 Christopher Jones EDU 773 Theories of College Student Development Instructor: Kevin Piskadlo
  2. 2. 2 After reading your comments and re-reading my first draft from part one of my story, I am starting to hopefully understand what you mean when you say give more details and evidence relating to my personal experiences that will support my writing in my analysis. With that in mind, I will elaborate on some of those experiences while associating some theories and illustrating some common themes that appear in my history. As I mentioned in part one of my story, I came from a middle to low working class family. My mother worked and retired as an educator in the Boston Public School system, and my father worked and retired as a city worker for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). In the household, religion, education, and the value of hard work were stressed upon me and my other siblings almost on a daily basis. If I had to identify a dominate Jones Theme, it would be hard work and being consistent in the work place. In the Jones family, my mother and father believed in staying consistent on their respected jobs. They led by example, and displayed a solid work performance. They were rarely late or absent from their positions. I have an uncle well into his eighties who works at a hardware store in Raleigh, North Carolina as a store representative who still prides himself on getting up every morning and being on time for work. His philosophy is, why should I sit at home, be lazy, and do nothing when I still have my health and still have the ability to perform on my job. My parents grew up in the 50’s & 60’s, in the South, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Because of their upbringing, my parents had very strict rules for us to follow, and placed high expectations on their children at a very early age. Growing up in my parent’s household was at times, very difficult because they did not allow any of us to be lazy, and we always had to be on task. Discipline, developing a work ethic, and doing daily chores was a way of life in the Jones household.
  3. 3. 3 With my parents being such strong disciplinarians, I know this type of rearing had a major impact on my personality. I compare my personality to the Myers–Briggs Theory. I did not realize it at the time, but because of my parents strong discipline style, as a youngster I did not question or challenge their authority. Whatever my parents said to me and my sibling was law. As a minor being raised in this setting I developed sort of an introvert’s personality. I remember growing up as a child being very quiet and shy for the most part, but the cognitive wheels in my mind were always spinning. If I had to create a Jones Theory, it would be similar to Kolb’s Theory of learning, where by knowledge is gained through life experiences. The Jones Theory if I had to put it into words concentrates heavily on social experiences, reflective observation, and active life experimentation. I have noticed in my family throughout the years that there is a definite pattern to our success. Because my parents grew up as African Americans in the South, and was part of the baby boomer generation, their identity and who they are, relied on first their social experiences in white America. A lot of their interpersonal relationships they had with others definitely helped form and shape their identity. The environment and community they grew up in influenced their beliefs and opinions culturally. The way blacks were treated in the south by whites in the 50’s and 60’s not only impacted their way of life in their home state, but also affected blacks nationally. The Civil Rights Movements were highly publicized and covered by the local and national news on a daily basis. I often reflect on the stories my mother has told me on several occasions how my grandfather, who was a successful businessman had to change his language, dress, and mode of transportation depending on his destination. If he was traveling to Knightdale, NC (small town) to pick up supplies, he would have to wear his overalls, straw hat,
  4. 4. 4 and drive a horse and buggy, because whites felt that a black man should not be driving anything else or dressed any differently, but if was going to Raleigh, NC (big city) then he would drive his automobile, and wear a suit and tie. For African Americans, this was a way of life, and those types of scenarios existed daily. Reflective Observation is a very critical piece in the Jones Theory, because it requires a lot of mental energy and intelligence on an individual’s part relating to your survival. Reflection means that you have to contemplate your experiences and view them from many different perspectives and apply that knowledge and understanding to your routine to achieve goals in your life. To do this successfully, you have to be able to evaluate situations, process, and problem solve affectively. The last part of the Jones Theory relates to Active Life Experimentation. This is when an individual has taken the other two components, internalized and processed them and creates a plan of attack. In other words, this when you had an opportunity to reflect on the previous life experiences, reflect on them, and then through education, your personality, family values and beliefs you devise a life map blue print for yourself to reach your goals. Although I possessed many profound statements in my thinking, dealing with the rest of the world just seemed to be draining at times, so on many occasions; I just kept my comments to myself, where I could remain safe. I remember vividly at the age of fourteen walking to the supermarket with my older brother and cousin during a hot summer day. We met some girls during our travels and I was so shy and nervous, I let them do all the talking for me. During the conversion, I kept telling myself to speak up and say something, but the words would not come
  5. 5. 5 out. I can remember thinking to myself, they are saying all the wrong things to these girls, I would have never said that etc., but it was not until I decided to take the leap of faith and adopt an extravert’s personality that things started to change for me. Through growth and maturity, I developed self-confidence and almost overnight my life changed forever. In terms of my Cognitive Development, I can definitely relate to the Cognitive structural theory. Looking at my evolution, in my earlier years I was not a complex thinker. A big reason for that was because in my generation, children did not question adults. We were taught by our parents that whomever the adult was in that particular setting, you follow their instructions. As a result of this the social interaction with our peers, parents, and other adults had a major influence on our development cognitively. If I had to identify any common themes during my development, I would have to say that I lacked self-confidence and experienced low self-esteem. My size and height and not always being totally comfortable in my skin, definitely attributed to my shyness and my interpersonal development. I also think growing up as the middle child may have played a role in my development as well. When you grow up as the middle child you are sort of the forgotten child. My older brother Xavier was the first born, so he received major attention when he came along. My younger sister Keysha is the baby and plus being a female also received a lot of attention growing up. The middle child, is always the one left to find their place and niche in the family and unless you are doing something outstanding, or deserving of praise, you are easily forgotten and pushed to the side. For example, it was always a struggle to find particular photos of me, growing up. If I needed a certain type of photo for school, I had to put out an APB to find a print
  6. 6. 6 I could use, opposed to my brother and sister who never had an issue, they always had more than enough for school projects. It sounds small, but something as simple as that can impact an individual’s intrapersonal development. Out of all the theories we studied and learned about throughout the class, I think my story and evolution relates to Chickering’s Theory and the seven vectors the best. In terms of growth in developing competency in certain areas it took some time for me to gain confidence in myself and my ability because of the environment I was exposed to. Because I was always in my older brother’s shadow, it took some time for me to gain confidence to finally speak up for myself and understand that what I had to say did matter and had value. I think that through sports I was really able to find myself and work on my interpersonal, intellectual and cognitive skills. Sports were a saving grace for me because it gave me a platform to not only grow into myself but express and show the world who I was as an individual. Managing my emotions was how I lived for years before this change came about. I had so much inside I wanted to get out, but because I lacked self-confidence, I had no choice but to accept the current conditions and keep my emotions at bay. In fact, Chickering’s Theory and the seven vectors is almost a mirror image of the story of my life. After I learned to manage my emotions, I felt myself slowly but surely moving into a state of independence with the aid of athletics. Athletics was a great vehicle for me to ride during my developmental years, because it became my voice publicly. While growing into myself physically, mentally, and intellectually, I did not have to worry too much about speaking literally because athletics became my mouthpiece. I became better connected with society through my sports experiences. This ultimately helped me with going from an introverted personality to an extraverted personality type.
  7. 7. 7 A good example to support this was transitioning from a player to a coach. I transformed from the shy timid kid to the demanding coach and athletic director barking out orders and full of self-confidence. In terms of the other four vectors, working in sports and athletics, I almost followed the blue print guidelines to the letter. I was able to build mature interpersonal relationships, establish my identity, developed a sense of purpose and integrity. I can also relate and compare my story of early development identities with Perry’s theory of dualism. As a young child being born into a family that carried deep southern roots and looked at many issues as black and white, I can now see and understand how morals and views may have, and still in some cases remain, either black or white. Because my parents experienced racism first hand during the 1950’s & 1960’s, I think it is only natural that they passed many of their views and opinions down to their children. I can remember my father saying that “as a black man you could never trust a white man”. That may have been true growing up in North Carolina eighty years ago because of the Jim Crow Laws, segregation and the history of the Civil War, but for me growing up in Boston, Massachusetts and being allowed to get my education in a fully desegregated system, I had to learn to gage other races and ethnicities by their character, not color. As I matured and grew and became more independent I learned how to trust myself and my experiences opposed to what was being told to me through someone else’s lenses. I later discovered that many of the opinions and views I carried towards various cultures were not my true feelings, but rather my parent’s opinions because of the way society was set up during their generation.
  8. 8. 8 Like many of the existing theories we have studied throughout the course, college was around the time I really started to grow, mature, and establish my identity as a man. I can remember the feeling of empowerment I had my first year attending college as an undergraduate student. I felt as though I was given a clean slate to paint my picture. I was the artist in charge and my objective was to paint a landscape unlike anyone else’s. Parallel to Chickering’s sixth vector, I developed a renewed purpose in life, and this time around I was going to make it count. As a result of this, through hard work, perseverance, and determination I received my Associates, and Bachelor’s Degree, earned an athletic scholarship, and signed my first pro contract to play professionally in Europe within five years. My professional basketball experience abroad was an education unlike any other. During this time I probably experienced more cases of dualism than any other time in my life. Europe, opposed to America, lives by a different mentality all together. For Americans, if you get the opportunity to live or spend a significant amount of time in Europe, it is the equivalent of going back in time and being thrown into a third world country. A perfect example of this is that an employee working for a particular company or organization when you sign a contract you expect the organization to honor the agreement between the two parties. If pay day is on the first of every month, then we as Americans expect to be paid on that day. In foreign countries it is a little different. In Europe, as a professional athlete, if you as an individual are performing well, then you can expect payment on the day you signed your contract. If you were not playing well and as a result, your team was dropping in the standings, then the club or organization would pay you when they felt like it. I had never seen this before until I started playing oversees.
  9. 9. 9 It was truly black and white, right and wrong, you played well, you got paid, you played bad, you did not get paid! This was Perry’s theory of Dualism working at its best. The themes that I presented in this writing piece in my opinion were common from a minority stand point, but I’m sure to a different population, their issues are quite different. For example, I’m sure a Caucasian male growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts during the 1970’s experiences growing up was quite different than mines and vice versa.