"Expectation" and Teaching: Mirrors, Bridges and the Space-Between

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Walsh, Susan
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English Quarterly
I had begun teaching this course on the heels of my doctoral candidacy examination; one of the texts that I had read in preparation was Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach (1998). I have taught a number of undergraduate teacher education courses over the past ten years, and I am always keenly aware of the students' desire for practical ideas that they can use during their field experience and after. While I would like to say that I can appreciate their desire for this kind of learning, I have to say, in retrospect, that I don't think I respected it enough--at least in the sense of trying to understand on a deeper level where this need comes from.(4) I decided instead to start the course off with a reading from Palmer--in particular, the first few pages where he establishes his belief that we must be concerned with the "who" that teaches--and not just the "what" and the "how" of teaching. I determined that I would impress upon the students that the purpose of the course was not just to collect a bag of practical techniques for the classroom, that we must get beyond this--and that the course would be an opportunity for them to take time with the "who" that would be teaching, a chance to find out what she or he already thought and felt about teaching, especially at taken-for-granted levels, and a chance to learn how to take care of that "who." And thus we began.
Walsh, S. (2000). Expectation and teaching: Mirrors, bridges and the space-between. English Quarterly, 32 (1 & 2), 44-48.