On Poetry and the Art of Teaching

Holding onto the Joy in Teaching

by Robert Jensen, Published on Friday, March 9, 2012 by Common Dreams

“After years of research, I have developed a three-stage teaching method that breaks new ground in pedagogical theory: Stage 1: Pay attention. Stage 2: Be astonished. Stage 3: Tell about it.

The first thing to say about this sophisticated advance in our understanding of university teaching is that I stole it, from Mary Oliver’s poem “Sometimes.”

If it appears I’m trying to poke fun at university professors’ self-indulgent tendency toward pomposity, I am. Since I am a university professor who occasionally can be self-indulgent and pompous, I have standing to poke fun. Frankly, we don’t poke fun at ourselves enough. That’s part of my teaching philosophy: Poke fun at myself, as often as possible, especially in front of students.

In this regard, poets perform an important service for professors. If we professors are ever tempted to claim that we have had an original insight into the human condition, we should pause and remember this: There’s at least one poet, and likely dozens, who had the insight long before we did and who expressed it far more eloquently than we could ever hope.”

Read More: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/09-6

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