Transformational or Transactional: Different Views of the World
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
Early in my career, I bumped into one of my former graduate school professors and we did the “What are you doing now?” dance. Now to be quite honest, I remember very little of the conversation. However, I clearly recall that he asked if I was a member of APA or a Division. As I recall I somewhat smirked and remarked, “APA is for clinicians—I’m not a clinician. What is the point of joining? What would APA ever do for me?” I will admit—not my best moment. Fortunately, my former professor was quite kind and endeavored to teach me again. I do not recall all that he said but he mentioned the Education Directorate, the importance of APA in lobbying efforts, resource development within Divisions, and APA’s role in advocacy on legal issues, including influence of the Federal Government and Supreme Court.
What I have come to realize over the years is that my cultural upbringing clearly shaped my view of the world as transactional. Essentially, with this view, we determine the worth of our relationships with others, organizations, and communities based on elements of exchange. With this view, I value my job in large measure because I am paid. I evaluate organizations I join based on what services/resources that they provide to me. I appreciate friends based on what emotional, financial, or other support that they may offer. With this worldview, life is about transactions with the underlying idea of “What is in it for me or my family?”
Today, I see the world as more interconnected and inclusive of persons and peoples around the globe, animal life, and the planet. I value human rights and social justice as fundamental elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are all valuable and interdependent. Within this context, I think I take a much more transformational view of the world—how can I make a difference in the world and how can I inspire others? Essentially, it is the same contrast provided by President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, when he asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
So how does all of this relate to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP)?
I think all too often, many of us think about our connections with our professional organizations as a transaction. I pay my dues and here is what I get in return. And “yes,” with STP you do get a lot, such as access to our excellent journal, Teaching of Psychology. However, STP also offers all sorts of resources and opportunities for “free.” Anyone—regardless of membership status—can access almost all of the STP resources (e.g., eBooks, syllabi, teaching resources) and all are welcome to join our listserv and social media pages. We want to be a welcoming and open community of psychology teachers, at all levels.
Additionally, the STP Executive Committee is committed to its Mission Statement and, as such, we are intentional in our decisions. The Mission Statement reads:
The Society for the Teaching of Psychology promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology. The Society provides resources and services, access to a global collaborative community, and opportunities for professional development. It endeavors to promote equity and social justice for teachers and students of psychology with marginalized, racially minoritized, and intersecting identities. The Society also strives to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning; advocate for the needs of teachers of psychology; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the teaching and learning of psychology; foster partnerships across academic settings; and increase recognition of the value of the teaching profession.
The Mission Statement is transformational in its goals and ideals. We can see evidence of that vision, as well as our intentionality in recent decisions grounded in the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g., creation of the new affinity groups; reduced dues for teachers living in low income countries as defined by the World Bank; leadership diversity training). STP endeavors not just to have a Mission Statement but to also to live that mission.
Throughout this past year, I have often referenced, what STP can do for you in terms of programming or resources. Now I want to open the door for you to become involved. We need your voices and efforts as part of STP in our endeavors aimed at “excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology.” And there are so many opportunities for involvement. For example:
The gift of your knowledge: If you look back at recent issues of STPNews, you will find a range of Calls for Chapters, Papers, Submissions, Grants, and more. You can submit your research and articles to Teaching of Psychologyor share your ideas through the E-xellence in Teachingblog. Explore the STP webpage for other opportunities to contribute to the teaching of psychology.
Involvement: You do not need to wait for someone to reach out to you to become involved in STP’s range of leadership positions, committees, task forces, and work groups. Check out Get Involved in STP! and explore all of the different opportunities where you can share your expertise and enthusiasm. STP is an amazing community of educators and you are welcome to become involved. Make sure you check out STP’s President-Elect Diane Finley’s 2023 Task Forces: Community College Involvement with STP Taskforce and HBCU/MSI/TCU Involvement with STP Taskforce. These are important opportunities where you can make a difference.
Membership: Many of us are juggling teaching, family, community engagement, and a host of other responsibilities. You may not be at a point in your life to add one more commitment to your professional life. Regardless, your membership in STP is contributes significantly to the work of the Society. Your dues open doors for other teachers and expand the ability of STP to offer grants, awards, expanded programming. In addition to membership, your votes within STP as well as APA, if you are also an APA member, are essential. For example, the APA apportionment and bylaws ballot would have arrived in your email inbox, if you are an APA member. This ballot is really important! We encourage APA members to cast all or some of their 10 allotted apportionment votes for Division 2 and to vote “yes” on all three bylaws amendments. Indeed, always remember that seemingly small actions are a key contribution.
There are so many ways that you can give back, make a difference, or engage in transformational efforts within STP. If you have new ideas, reach out. We are always looking for ways to inform and transform the profession. If nothing else, please remember that all are welcome in STP! We value and need your voice! “To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” ― Maya Angelou