How to create/become a rebellious and mischievous professional

I often ask my students the question: Do your colleagues, managers, organizations suffer enough from you? Sometimes - and it happens more and more - I no longer have to ask that question because I myself 'suffer' from students who ask critical and new questions that make me think. And it is exactly that type of professionals that we need in our contemporary society.

So why is higher education still so intertwined with imposed regulations, quality requirements and procedures? What are we afraid of, what risks are we trying to avoid, what accidents do we wish to prevent? If we say that mistakes and failures are important to learn, why do we continuously try to avoid them through rules and regulations? Are we afraid that our students and learning professionals will otherwise learn the wrong things, or do we think they are too lazy to learn at all?

Mathieu Weggeman (professor of organisational science) says it so eloquently: ‘Professionals are people who aim to be good at their jobs, so don’t bother them with regulations and procedures. Instead, facilitate them to excel. Tell them what goals they should reach, under which conditions, but don’t bother them with rules and regulations about how to reach those goals.’

If we translate these words into terms of higher education, it means that we should encourage students and learning professionals to deviate from the beaten track, take new paths or create new ones; coloring outside the lines, being rebellious, taking risks and failing brilliantly. At a time when existing solutions do not offer solace for new problems, we need professionals who dare to go off the beaten track.

The next challenge then is to train our students to a sufficient extent to become mischievous, transverse and experimental professionals who challenge themselves and others to look differently, act differently and think differently so that we can create different experiences and results.

And actually, the question we should ask ourselves as educators is: are we ourselves rebellious and cross enough to inspire our students, fellow professionals and organizations with new insights, new questions and therefore new vistas?

I wish everyone who participates in EAPRIL 2022 some of these experiences: rebellious thoughts and rebellious initiatives that cause challenges so that people are tempted to think differently about the world around them. Moreover, I hope that these thoughts lead to other experiences and perhaps new solutions and vistas.

There are still tickets available to join us for the EAPRIL 2022 conference in Nijmegen (23-25 november 2022). For more info click here.

About Hermi Beute

HAN University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands (member of the EAPRIL 2022 LOC)