Dating names eternal courage

But at other moments, the classroom is so lifeless or painful or confused—and I am so powerless to do anything about it that my claim to be a teacher seems a transparent sham.

Then the enemy is everywhere: in those students from some alien planet, in that subject I thought I knew, and in the personal pathology that keeps me earning my living this way.

To chart that landscape fully, three important paths must be taken—intellectual, emotional, and spiritual—and none can be ignored.

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I am a teacher at heart, and there are moments in the classroom when I can hardly hold the joy.

When my students and I discover uncharted territory to explore, when the pathway out of a thicket opens up before us, when our experience is illumined by the lightning-life of the mind—then teaching is the finest work I know.

Face to face with my students, only one resource is at my immediate command: my identity, my selfhood, my sense of this “I” who teaches—without which I have no sense of the “Thou” who learns..

In every class I teach, my ability to connect with my students, and to connect them with the subject, depends less on the methods I use than on the degree to which I know and trust my selfhood—and am willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning.

Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul.

If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.

One student I heard about said she could not describe her good teachers because they were so different from each other.

But she could describe her bad teachers because they were all the same: “Their words float somewhere in front of their faces, like the balloon speech in cartoons.” With one remarkable image she said it all.

As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together.

The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life.

No matter how we devote ourselves to reading and research, teaching requires a command of content that always eludes our grasp.

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