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I Met a Guy in a Bar in Hagerstown, Maryland

Posted By Trent Batson Ph. D., AAEEBL, Sunday, November 13, 2016

I Met a Guy in a Bar in Hagerstown, Maryland

No, this is not a mistaken posting – this is a Batson Blog, not a funny story (just a bit ironic). 

It was Election Eve (I had voted absentee) and I was on my way back from the Southeast Regional AAEEBL Conference at Virginia Tech.  I was driving back to Rhode Island where I live.

I went into the bar for dinner and noticed a man of about 45 sitting to my left.  After about 15 minutes, the entire bar started talking because, well, it was Election Eve.  As part of that general upwelling of spirited talk, my new friend and I started talking. 

We of course did get to the point of asking about each other’s work.  I found out that he was/is a manufacturer’s representative.  But, wait, not just one manufacturer, but any manufacturer in his market niche – some kind of tools.  He explained how advantageous it is to hire a representative who works for himself or herself because then he is not on a payroll and the manufacturer then does not need to contribute to a pension or cover health insurance. 

He enjoys his work because he is self-employed and does well in his work. 

I was directly experiencing what I’d read reports about – the surge in numbers of those who work for themselves or for a small start up.  He is acting as his own agent.  I could see direct proof that the words we use to advocate for good eportfolio use – strengthening “student agency” in their own learning – does in fact transfer to the world of work.  It’s a spot-on high-impact practice to push for student agency in their learning:  the world invites individual agency. 

My friend’s family has been in manufacturing for generations but he is the first to work as his own agent and not for a large company.  He himself is pushing the envelope for how the world works but of course went for the Luddite vote.  Information technology opens opportunities but also inspires opposition, even from those welcoming the new opportunities. 

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