Over the years parents, educators, friends, colleagues, and, eventually, our own selves continually tell us “no,” and we learn to oppress, deny, and bury our egos and sense of self. We conform to societal norms without an appreciation for how they align with our personal desires. Passion and individuality are not celebrated and encouraged; rather they are tempered and eventually atrophy.
As educators, we are now considered to possess the knowledge; we are the ones expected to “mold minds.” We convince ourselves that by “telling” students and making sure they know some pre-defined set of socially, agreed-upon objectives that we are preparing them to succeed in the world.
However, society’s virtuous commitment to aiding all students in attaining the same objectives may actually inhibit, rather than promote, human development. This commitment reinforces and validates those individuals who silent their personal perspectives and, instead, adopt those perspectives deemed important by society. I believe that such an emphasis discourages individuality and, ultimately, atrophies the spirit.
My task as an educator, friend, colleague, and fellow human being is not to “tell” or “socialize” others into some shared perspective, but rather to foster a passion for unique passions. Clearly, I do engage in didactic lectures or even lapse into pedantic instants. However, these pedagogical periods are couched within the context of a larger goal. In other words, they are not ends onto themselves but serve as tools to assist in the attainment of some larger goal to which the students are engaged. It is with the mission of exciting personal passions within the context of a social world that I have chosen the career of professor, and find myself committed to:
- helping students appreciate varying perspectives;
- encouraging students to ask why;
- aiding students in developing the tools required to answer why; and
- awakening students’ unique passions to become life-long learners.