Wednesday, July 2, 2014

teaching and wandering

Critical Thinking is the class that I'm teaching this summer in summer school. I tell the class that "Critical Thinking" can mean argumentative or logical or analyzing thinking, and that's what the title of the class is intended to mean, by the powers that be. But I think of it more like Thinking That Is Crucial. "Critical" as in critical care in a hospital. David Foster Wallace says that learning how to think has as much to do with figuring out what is worth thinking about as it has to do with learning rational or clear ways of thinking. And I really agree. What good is it to learn to avoid fallacious reasoning if you're only considering puny matters?

This is the fourth time that I've taught this class. I'm feeling much more competent and confident in the classroom. Part of that, I think, has to do with owning my role as the teacher. For reasons that I don't have the time here in my early morning hours to get into, I've often backed away from that role, even though I've found myself in it so many times. I haven't wanted to be the one with the power, the one that other people were looking up to, listening to.

Deb the Wonder Therapist said to me once that I'd handle power so much better if I could just admit to myself that I had it. If I couldn't admit that I had power (and not a power bestowed by external authorities, it seems, but a power that just comes from me being me), then I'd be a lot more likely to misuse it. Deb the Wonder Therapist is a wise, wise woman. Slowly, slowly, I've realized that she's right. I'm admitting to myself that my students listen to me, some of them listen to me very deeply, and the more I recognize that, the more I try to be the kind of person who's worth listening to. The more I try to see their full humanity, to treat them with bedrock respect, and also--the more I try to give my power away.

I think for a long time I tried to give my power away because I didn't want to have power. I was trying to get rid of it. Now I'm recognizing that for better or worse, I just do have power. And I can empower others. But I won't be able to empower others--I won't be able to give my power away--until/unless I embrace it myself.

Here in a few hours I'll head off to teach my class. I've been working so many hours with Ariel--I still work with her seven days a week--and now with teaching I'd say I easily work 80 hours a week. I don't like working that much. One of the many reasons I'm soon moving on.

Mark was asking where I'll go, when I wander. I have some ideas. And right now I need to do lesson prep. But I'll get back to the question.

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