I’m originally from the rural south. Don’t let that fool you, though, I went to college… twice! I like books, dogs, and being outside.
My teaching philosophy:
Education is a rite of passage, and the educator’s role is to bear experience and guidance on a learner’s journey toward self empowerment (one unavoidably fraught with challenges, confusion, and contradictions)—not to vend parceled knowledge. The learner must accept that journey, and resolve its many conflicts for himself, it cannot be done for him. The value of the learning experience is in the very having of it, in overcoming its difficulties.
The following is an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to a student whose work I critiqued via correspondence.
Seek treasure amid ruins. —Rumi
Before I get into the thick of the feedback, allow me to offer you some insight as you take your first intrepid steps toward the impossibly distant horizon of expertise. Of absolutely greatest importance for you to accept is that you’re still cooking. This is a process; it’s a journey. You’re starting with relatively zero knowledge on a subject that has been evolving for thousands of years. You’re seeking to enter a field of practice that demands that one define herself by its culture, and, at your age, it’s likely that you’re only just beginning to get a glimpse of who you are. You’re in a program recognized for excellence on an international level, and you’re in the most psychologically challenging phase of that program. If you could, even for an instant, feel satisfied that you know what you’re doing, it would bode far more ominously for your future than the fact that you feel lost, and that you struggle to succeed. To overcome a struggle, one cannot avoid being made strong enough to survive; to find herself she cannot avoid learning exactly where she is. These are the true fruits of the experience that you’re having right now. If it were easy, you would be robbed of them. It matters not in the least if you succeed or fail at this project, this course, this major, or this stage of education. It only matters that you see it all for what it really is: a chance for you to grow into something more than you were when you started.
Finally, I must reveal the sobering truth that this hill you’re climbing is only one small point in that lifelong journey. There will be many milestones to reach, many new plateaus to strive for. It’s not where you’re standing when you stop to look around that reveals the quality of the stuff you’re made from, but the poise and pluck you demonstrate as you shoulder your burden and climb to the next highest place.