Good teaching is about assisting students with reconciling their thresholds between the connected and the disconnected points of insights, knowledge, and wisdom. Also, a good teacher is an intermediary that collaborates with their students, with the intent to link their schematic foundations, with enriched and clarified content, that is later “scaffolded” atop their inherent baseline of knowledge and comprehension. To achieve these aims, I rely on writing, comparative literatures, authentic leadership, psycho-analytic theoretical frameworks, and creativity—these practices also assist with engaging my students. Moreover, I seek to interface some Orwellian tenets within my systematic approach towards teaching. George Orwell stated that:
If you cannot write well,
You cannot think well.
If you cannot think well,
Others will do their thinking for you.
I strongly subscribe to the aforementioned philosophy. Writing has the capacity to plumb the reflections into useful directions and to capture the individualized thoughts that spring about, just as Orwell alluded to. As a professor of composition and literature, I continually emphasize to my students the need to effectively communicate—and to be generative—so that my students will be better equipped to transform their ideas into useful, efficacious actions, which can lead to dynamic impact. In this way, pragmatic and authentic capital is likely to develop. Eventually this “pragmatic authenticity” and critical consciousness can be leveraged by my students, so as to foster improved interpersonal communications and collaborations with a myriad of complex discourse enclaves that they will inevitably connect with.
Additionally, perhaps Khalil Gibran’s sentiments align with my philosophy, because Gibran believed that teachers are “indeed wise (if) he (or she) does not bid you enter the house of (their) wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” In so doing--the emphasis is ultimately on connecting to the constellation of one’s own consciousness. Fittingly, Thoreau espoused a similar maxim; he articulated the value for an individual to explore their own “cosmography,” which lies deeply within.
In essence, I am an intermediary that attempts to usher in a flash of insight leading to a type of liberation in which consciousness can break internalized stalemates, and the like. And yet, the need to transmute consciousness into concrete actions of impact must also occur—perhaps in a way that is similarly described by John Dewey; he said that:
“Not only does an educator show awareness of shaping the direction of an experience, but he or she must also recognize what surroundings are conducive to having experiences that lead to growth. This includes utilizing both physical and social surroundings so they contribute to providing worthwhile experiences.”
Ultimately my aim as a teacher is to skillfully negotiate the liminal spaces that exist between my students’ native understanding and their potential for refined, elegant, and enriched new models of knowledge and understanding. I want them to think well. I want them to function well. And I believe that the sum total of these events will translate into meaningful learning experiences for them. Indeed good teaching is about functioning as a supreme intermediary quantity that assists students with balancing their existing knowledge with their acquisitions of new knowledge and frameworks.