(written on May 16, 2007)
Yesterday I slipped back into an annoying old habit, and I don’t intend to let it happen again today. Without even realizing it, I spent a good part of the day “teasing” my students – prodding, badgering, and pestering them as though I were one of their pals. It’s a behavior I used to exhibit regularly with my students – one which I thought I had left behind for good. I no longer like that kind of behavior in myself, and I hope to cut it out of my teaching style completely. I don’t like the teasing approach to teaching primarily because, when I do it, it suggests a wrong-headed attitude toward my students. When I am teasing them, I am doing it because I have temporarily lost awareness of who and what they are. Instead of seeing their true natures, I’m seeing them as merely physical “objects” that can be prodded, badgered, and pestered. Only a “mechanism” can be prodded, only a “thing” can be badgered, and only an “object” can be pestered. If I was seeing my students as they truly are – as talented, diverse, gifted, and infinitely inventive creations of an infinite universe – I would understand that they are not objects to be teased, but wonders to be appreciated. It’s interesting, in this regard, that the original meaning for tease was “to cut (tissue, for example) into pieces for examination.” This suggests, again, that teasing, at least when I do it, is done to some “thing” that can be taken apart, poked at, fiddled with, studied, and then perhaps cast aside. My students are not things. They are forty-two wonders of the world, and as such, they should be admired, respected, and cherished, not prodded, badgered, and pestered.