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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Having Double-Vision as a Supervisor

Being a skilled and artful supervisor of a Divinity student requires the capacity to see more than one thing at a time.  It requires a kind of double vision: near-sighted as well as far-sighted.  That is, sometimes the work before us requires us to look very closely (together) at one task that is before us.  It might be word-smithing, word by theological word, a sermon, a prayer, a news release, a statement to board members.  This kind of work reminds me of the kind of sight Annie Dillard must have had when she wrote, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek based on her very close observations of one square foot of land over time.  It requires seeing detail, nuance, slight movement.

And then there are the times when we need to see as far down the path as we can.  A student might be encountering a difficulty in the internship that could have long-term ramifications.  What if I do not have this gift?  Should I change course?  At times like this it is helpful to have the vision (and navigational tools) of a sea captain.  Having a sense of where the currents change, where there might be something lurking beneath the surface,  and what might be the best timing for a course correction.

Where have you recently encountered the need for one or other of these kinds of vision?
What wisdom might you share?

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