The Importance of Authenticity in Teaching

NPR : Just Like Pastrami
Garder Writes: First Resolution for 2007

I’d been meaning to return my blog, but thought maybe I’d wait until later in the month, since so it wouldn’t seem quite so much like a New Year’s resolution. (Didn’t want to seem like all the new folks that will show up at the Rec Center tomorrow morning vowing to start exercising…) But Gardner has tested the waters, and they look inviting, so I’ll jump back in again. He lists a couple of Parker Palmer’s books, including the one that summarizes my credo from my years as a “vocational” (aka “career”) counselor:

Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will also find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our authentic service in the world. True vocation joins self and service, as Fredrick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.’ P 16)

Lee Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching also hit upon the importance of integrating learning and living in the first essay in 2007 for the NPR’s This I Believe series. (See my earlier blog entry for more background on the series.)

When I started teaching college, my mentors warned me against having any interest in my students’ lives outside the classroom. In my first month on the job, I taught a 500-student class. One day a young woman came to my office to tell me she wouldn’t be able to complete all the course requirements. It turned out her husband had been killed in a car accident the month before. She was a 19-year-old widow….I then began to wonder about the other 499 students. Their stories may not have been as extreme, but I would have been a fool to think their lives wouldn’t have an impact on the classroom. Learning and living were marbled in my students’ lives, not layered.

I’m hoping to find a way to get blogging “marbled” back into my life as we enter the new year.