30 November 2011

My Teachers

This has not been a year, in the US or elsewhere, in which teachers (or other public-sector workers) have always been given their due. I've been thinking about this for a long time, about my or our debt to teachers, about the impossibility of ever doing justice to them, about what first step I might take in the face of that impossibility…

What I've come up with is an obvious first step. And, imperfect as it is, let me dare to hope that it, or something like it, will catch on. As an Internet meme. Or in 'real' conversations, in 'real life'.

My proposal: name your teachers.

We readily name our favorite authors, in a list that, if we are authors ourselves, is sometimes called a list of our influences. (I put together such a list as part of a larger meme on Facebook almost three years, and I refer to it here constantly as 'the 26'.) But what about those other influences, our teachers?

In my version of this list, I've decided not to limit myself to public school teachers, or even to people with whom I've come into contact in classrooms or lecture halls of whatever sort. I've decided to leave aside formal taxonomies, both as criteria for inclusion and as determinants for organizing the list. All that matters is that these are the names of people from whom I've learned--from them, directly, and not just from their writings, say.

Finally, the list is not exhaustive. My lists never are. What I intend is simply to acknowledge that I owe a debt, a student's debt, to each of these 11, as well as to many more.

The names:
  • Jim Carpenter
  • Paul de Man
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Shoshana Felman
  • Charles Hulbert
  • Elsie Hulbert
  • Richard C. Hulbert
  • Anthony Korahais
  • John Neubauer
  • Helen Sample
  • René Wellek
Please join me.

Here, elsewhere, in writing, aloud… name your teachers. (It's your list that has meaning for you, much more than mine.)

It's a beginning.

1 comment:

Jim Carpenter said...

Well, I could write a book about this, Jascha - an exercise in gratitude. Here's my first list for starters:

James Hulbert
Helen Carpenter
John R. Carpenter
Margaret Nagle Carpenter
Crystal Berkebile Sullivan
Andy Rau
Francine Hultgren
Jesse Roderick
Carole Barnes
Anthony Korahias
Linda Pence
Sister Anita Marie