Monday Aphorism: An Attack Upon Dialectic

It came swiftly and with a harshness I have grown to expect. “Don’t you believe in change, in making things better?,” I was asked with a rhetorical twist of lemon so sour it curled upon itself with three dots trailing, dripping some mix of blood and venom.

“Why do you take us to the edges of the issues, purifying them beyond belief and being, beyond any possible doing?,” I was asked. “Do you espouse the way the world is?,” two of them joined in the accusation which a joining of minds heightened to a pitch which humans can barely hear but twitches at the skin’s ends vibrating with a sharpness which cuts.

I replied that I tried to make them think beyond experience, deeper than they had imagined; that if they didn’t want to study with a teacher, why not go their own way and not attack the idea of teaching and of the teacher. Why did they think that when I tried to overdraw a situation, to describe it that they will look at it critically to see if I saw what is there, that they can begin to see beyond their current beliefs, that I do not think that what is, is what should be.

“Qualify what you see and what you say, that we know what you really believe,” I was told.  I replied that my being there, my instancing myself, was the best I could do to exemplify who I am, what I say and do.

To provoke their questions, in or out of passion or anger, was to promote their seeking, their being students of their own worlds. Against teachers, against teaching, they wanted me to tell them just what I thought.  I, reflecting upon how Nietzsche was misunderstood in spite of qualifying, stood my ground as a teacher who would try to get them to think, to study, to inquire…

  • April

    Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear….

    I haven’t read your “Teaching as Dialogue,” but as I read more about the different pedagogies of the dialectic and Marxist materialism, I am beginning to feel that we all (teachers, students, parents, children) need to stop and look upon the phenomena and begin to talk about what we sense might be going down. Because there is some very very very fascinating stuff going on with the genealogy of ideas. To see that we no longer study the classics, but submit to previous studies…. is startling to say the least. And to know that the genealogy of these pedagogies is hidden among the many artifacts and documents…. is exciting, mysterious. What could be uncovered as we delve into the institutions and individuals that, though long departed, continue to fashion our understanding of those precious few fragments left to us by our elders? Will we find they tried their best? Or were they, like ourselves, prone to youthful arrogance, error, corruption?

    The wisdom of the past has transcended space and time to meet us in the present, and instead of taking it for the miracle that it is and directing it towards the future, we look to the bureaucrats of yesterday for direction? I’m suspicious of such an approach.

    I really liked your vision for the University. Thank you for sharing that!

  • April

    Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear….

    I haven’t read your “Teaching as Dialogue,” but as I read more about the different pedagogies of the dialectic and Marxist materialism, I am beginning to feel that we all (teachers, students, parents, children) need to stop and look upon the phenomena and begin to talk about what we sense might be going down. Because there is some very very very fascinating stuff going on with the genealogy of ideas. To see that we no longer study the classics, but submit to previous studies…. is startling to say the least. And to know that the genealogy of these pedagogies is hidden among the many artifacts and documents…. is exciting, mysterious. What could be uncovered as we delve into the institutions and individuals that, though long departed, continue to fashion our understanding of those precious few fragments left to us by our elders? Will we find they tried their best? Or were they, like ourselves, prone to youthful arrogance, error, corruption?

    The wisdom of the past has transcended space and time to meet us in the present, and instead of taking it for the miracle that it is and directing it towards the future, we look to the bureaucrats of yesterday for direction? I’m suspicious of such an approach.

    I really liked your vision for the University. Thank you for sharing that!

  • http://harveysarles.com Harvey Sarles

    April,
    My understandings, explorations, and practices of teaching have gotten my to wonder about the future a great deal. As their teacher, I am pretty certain that I have the possibility of staying in “my” students’ heads, to touch the/their future; at best or most, to be able to inspire the future. That is, I’ve come to the understanding that teachers can be – possibly should be – important in the world.
    But that hasn’t been the case in America for the past few generations: teaching has been seen as a kind of “fall-back” mode of work, a safe place with a “decent” wage. But economy has dominated in the now changing money bubble.
    In teaching as dialogue, the idea of being/doing/teaching has helped be to study my own doing, and my “presence” in the ongoing dialogue: I had noted that lecturing, now with Power Point, allows or encourages teachers to be in their own heads, even while teaching.
    The dialogue/dialectic – open in all moments – helps/allows me to study my own being, and to study the student’s during the “development” of the course I am teaching in any moment.
    It is a continuous “practice,” if not always “clear” in any moment of the dialogue – but to inspire the future is to help the students to “retake” their own sense of ownership of ideas, and a developing notion of the freedoms of their own thought…growing.
    My idea is that the actual or real course can occur or begin for my students on the day after the course is over. Then they can attempt to “own” their own thoughts – using me their teacher, and the experiencing of the dialogue – to become who they…would be…in their terms.
    Harvey

  • http://harveysarles.com Harvey Sarles

    April,
    My understandings, explorations, and practices of teaching have gotten my to wonder about the future a great deal. As their teacher, I am pretty certain that I have the possibility of staying in “my” students’ heads, to touch the/their future; at best or most, to be able to inspire the future. That is, I’ve come to the understanding that teachers can be – possibly should be – important in the world.
    But that hasn’t been the case in America for the past few generations: teaching has been seen as a kind of “fall-back” mode of work, a safe place with a “decent” wage. But economy has dominated in the now changing money bubble.
    In teaching as dialogue, the idea of being/doing/teaching has helped be to study my own doing, and my “presence” in the ongoing dialogue: I had noted that lecturing, now with Power Point, allows or encourages teachers to be in their own heads, even while teaching.
    The dialogue/dialectic – open in all moments – helps/allows me to study my own being, and to study the student’s during the “development” of the course I am teaching in any moment.
    It is a continuous “practice,” if not always “clear” in any moment of the dialogue – but to inspire the future is to help the students to “retake” their own sense of ownership of ideas, and a developing notion of the freedoms of their own thought…growing.
    My idea is that the actual or real course can occur or begin for my students on the day after the course is over. Then they can attempt to “own” their own thoughts – using me their teacher, and the experiencing of the dialogue – to become who they…would be…in their terms.
    Harvey