Belated Reponse to Gardner

The previous posting, on fear of risktaking by teachers, reminded me that I had meant to get back to Gardner’s response to my post. (Are you confused yet?)

Gardner wrote:

[W]hat if the problem is not that people aren’t thinking well about their teaching? What if the problem is that people aren’t thinking well about their professional work… [that as academics we fail to make clear] that the work we … are doing is part of something much larger?

I agree that that’s a discussion we need to have, and indeed, I’d be happy to contribute to it. I can see why the lack of that discussion keeps teaching “such a walled garden even inside the university.” But I don’t see how that lack makes teachers averse to change. Am I missing something?

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1 Response to Belated Reponse to Gardner

  1. Gardner says:

    I think so.

    Without a sense of larger purpose, there’s no sense of shared mission to propel us past our all-too-human fears. Instead, we have jockeying for position, fear generated by Imposter Syndrome, and a reluctance to stand exposed as beginners in any field not our own. When our students mirror our own behavior in relation to ourselves as fellow intellectuals, we have little room to complain that they don’t understand the deep commitment to community and vulnerability that we ask from them as they pursue real school.

    If there’s a larger purpose, a sense of shared mission as professionals, we can put aside the smaller, local concerns as we work together to address the mission.

    Sad to say, it often takes a common enemy to bring about that kind of unity … but in higher education we constantly preach other values, and a heightened awareness of higher purposes … and it would be nice to walk it like we talk it.

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