Another Impossible Profession

Here I am gearing up for another year of teaching writing at UCSB. I think this will be year 30.

In 1980, I finished my dissertation, “Romantic Thought: Education and Alienation.”

That could be the title of my autobiography as a teacher. Looking back I see how much the reading I did for the dissertation has informed my thinking about teaching and education.

I continue to think about it and recently came across the following by Carl Rogers from an essay, “Freedom to Learn.”

a) My experience is that I cannot teach another person how to teach. To attempt it is for me, in the long run, futile.

b) It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential and has little or no significant influence on behavior.

c) I realize increasingly that I am only interested in learnings which significantly influence behavior.

d) I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influence behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning.

e) Such self-discovered learning, truth that has been personally appropriated and assimilated in experience, cannot be directly communicated to another.

f) As a consequence of the above, I realize that I have lost interest in being a teacher

That about sums it up, for me too, though I don’t think I have completely lost interest in being a teacher or at least in trying to figure out what one might be.

Meanwhile, T. Adorno speaks of the teacher as the executioner and school as the scene of executions.