Schools of Thought

It’s been difficult finding my way lately. More knowledge has made it more difficult, rather than less — as it delineates the myriad possibilities that exist. Even within the more “learned” communities, there are a number of competing philosophies/approaches. For example: My social psych prof lectured to the class the other day how he feels he must know a text inside and out in order to teach it and that he never arrives to class with notes because if he requires notes to lecture, he doesn’t really know the material and isn’t truly qualified to teach the material. He also said that you will know if/when you are a scholar by the fact that you learn not to get a grade, not to get a job, but just to KNOW. This all sounds fine and good, but as I observe my professor, he appears as a general rule to be relatively closed to new information. Not only does he not arrive with lecture notes to read from, he arrives with nothing to TAKE notes, to record new observations or insights that occur to him or information his students might impart upon him. I am told by those who have had him in multiple courses that he routinely assigns the same 3 texts regardless of the course (one is a book on neo-Freudian adolescent personality theory that has only marginal relevance to formal social psychology as a discipline). And I realized that I don’t learn to KNOW; I learn to discover. I am not content that I ever really know or that I have ever really proven anything (in science, as in life, the evidence only suggests with differing degrees of probability). If I ever stopped discovering, I think the joy would be truly lost for me. I also don’t think this would make me less qualified as a teacher.

Liked it? Take a second to support Poly.Land on Patreon!

1 Comment

  1. I saw a Harvard prof lecturing about Victorian melodrama, and he was very funny, interesting, and engaging until it came time for him to be sure he’d covered the formal definition of melodrama he wanted his students to have. He sidled over to the lectern (he had been roaming the stage) and (sort of pretending he wasn’t doing it) read his notes and delivered the definition. My opinion of him dropped quite a bit–of course, I don’t teach at no frippin Harvard, but, given the short life of memorized material (and that definition was something his students would be wise to memorize for their exams), I’d rather make an impression about *something* than make a fetish of completism.

    Notes take you away from the moment, make it much harder to *be* in the room, and petrify lectures forever (though when you’ve delivered the basic ENG 101 material as often as I have, it’s hard not to have it pretty well memorized, i.e., your notes are in your head, if not your hand.)

Leave a Reply

You may also like