We Teach Who We Are

We teach who we are

 

*I sketched this picture to represent the quote, “teaching holds a mirror to the soul”

In a previous lecture, I remember hearing, “we teach who we are”.  This idea is also expressed in Parker Palmer’s, “The Heart of a Teacher“.  Palmer writes, “As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together” and “teaching holds a mirror to the soul”.  To me, this reflects a connection between the teacher and their students.  Thinking of this in Palmer’s terms makes the experience sound very personal and intimate because it’s a transfer of your own values and teaching.  I think that this has a similar effect, also, if you switched the role of the teacher to the students.  Children and youth have an amazing ability to teach you new and intriguing things everyday and the things that they choose to share is an extension from their own thinking and a reflection of themselves.

These words really resonated with me and I never thought about how true this is!  It made me think about past teachers and professors I have come across over the years.  I’ve wondered about why certain educators teach the way they do and I’ve realized it’s just because they are portraying themselves in the classroom.  Since no one is the same, different teaching styles and attitudes will emerge.  I’ve had silly teachers, serious teachers, laid back teachers, you name it!  If an educator is having a bad day, it is reflected in their teaching.  If they are excited, then the classroom environment changes.  If emotion can have this huge effect in the classroom, imagine how views on social justice will be reflected.  If we aren’t careful about the messages in the hidden curriculum, we could potentially raise students to be racist, sexist or generally oppressive.

Do you have an example of how a teacher’s identity is expressed in the classroom?  Has there been any problems with incorporating anti-oppressive teaching?

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