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Critical Incidents: Altering the Status Quo

“Essentially and most simply put, plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they are in. It is a logical sequence of events that grow from an initial incident that alters the status quo of the characters.    Elizabeth George

I love the term critical incident.  As it is described in our readings, a critical incident is an event which in some way has had a significant impact on your personal and professional learning in that it affects your thoughts about self, choices to be considered, and life paths to be journeyed.  The stories of successful adults with LD shared in class tonight talked about critical incidents:

Neil Smith:  College football scholarship leads to pro career

Patricia Polocco:  Kind teacher assists her in self discovery leads to drawing and writing career

Chuck Close:  Car accident leaves him in a wheelchair leading to using his hands and mind to paint amazing portraits even though he has ‘face blindness’

Diane Swank:  9-11 leads 20 people out of the towers even though she can’t tell right from left

TJ:  Failure at one career leads to a better fit as an ATM repairman

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “critical incidents” in my life, but I’ve always looked at them as fate stepping in and giving me a nudge.  Yet, I guess they did alter the status quo.  The financial crisis of 2008 was the most recent critical incident for me because it led to a fork in my career path, and it lead to the decision to pursue a master’s degree.  And so it has been throughout my program experience – living in a parallel universe where life and learning have been mysteriously symbiotic – providing a textbook example of Levinson’s “building and modifying one’s life structure.”

Is it possible that there are no coincidences?  Is it possible that critical incidences are a means to your destiny?  Why don’t you say ‘no’ at that moment in time?  What causes you to reframe, to change your way of thinking about yourself as a result?  What would happen if you had said no to fate?  For me, I wouldn’t even know adult learning programs existed as part of the same school system I taught in, parented in, and consulted in.  I wouldn’t have ventured into social media or even have been aware at the amazing world of learning and knowledge sharing that is at your fingertips through technology.  I wouldn’t have met the amazing people that I did, been a part of intellectual discourse, been made aware of adult literacy and learning disability challenges, or be in the new career I am today.  I would be less of me.  It’s a good thing to alter status quo – and a better thing that we are not in control of critical incidents.


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