Saturday, April 19, 2014
Good teaching is an act of hospitality toward the young, and hospitality is always an act that benefits the host even more than the guest. The concept of hospitality arose in ancient times when this reciprocity was easier to see: in nomadic cultures, the food and shelter one gave to a stranger yesterday is the food and shelter one hopes to receive from a stranger tomorrow. By offering hospitality, one participates in the endless reweaving of a social fabric on which all can depend - thus the gift of sustenance for the guest becomes a gift of hope for the host. It is that way in teaching as well: the teacher's hospitality to the student results in a world more hospitable to the teacher.
One of the blessings of teaching is the chance it gives us for continuing encounters with the young, but whatever eventually blesses us may at first feel like a curse! We are more likely to survive the curse and arrive at the blessing if we understand that we may be as afraid of our students as they are of us - and then learn to decode our own fears, as well as theirs, for the sake of creativity in the service of the young.
Parker Palmer, THE COURAGE TO TEACH, at 50 (1998)