Integrity and teaching

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organic growth
“A complex web of connections”
Organic Growth from the Internet Mapping Project
posted by jurveston
These lines from May Sarton indicate something of the integrity of the “good” minister, teacher or human being:
Now I become myself.
It’s taken time, many years and places.
I have been dissolved and shaken,
worn other people’s faces … (the rest of the poem is here)
I have worn other people’s faces because it’s safe to be in the crowd. I have worn other people’s faces but they have never fit. I have tried to be clever. I have tried to be funny. I have even tried to be effective. But these faces never fit. We live in a world where standards are imposed and where we are trained from the outside in to conform to certain standards. When Jesus breathed new life into his disciples (John 20:19-23) he seemed to be giving them a very different inside-out spiritual direction for their lives. Parker Palmer, who quotes the above lines from May Sarton, talks about the divided self and the undivided self. A self divided is a self dis-membered and lacking integrity. For Palmer “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” They “join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.”
Palmer goes on to say that good teachers are “able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves. … The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts – meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self.”
When I reflect on the good teachers I have had I find that they are people who refused “other people’s faces”, who committed time to me and gave me their undivided attention. I also reflect that they have been a rather rare breed, but then I may not have been the right student to help great teaching happen with all the others I have known. The good teachers, though. have been more than enough – thank God.

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