I Author Myself, But Not Without Your Help

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[In a classroom where inspirational teaching and learning happen,] existence, like language, comes to be seen as a shared event, when it is … the other who lets me become an object of my own perception. Coming to see myself as others might perceive me from what I say, I author myself, as it were, from the outside, not from within.

~ James McGonigal, “Interactive or dialogic teaching: the case of the ‘inspirational’ teacher


What does this mean? For students, a skilled or inspirational teacher conveys that outer sense of how he or she is perceived by another individual — the teacher, namely — who thereby enables the young person to “forge” himself or herself , if you will, from the outside. It’s as if the teacher sees in me something that becomes visible to me, initially, only through his or her eyes.


Such a teacher gives me that chance to author a higher self, to create a person of greater potential than I ever suspected that I could become. Because of that teacher, I have the feeling of being understood, and that very feeling is my path to self-understanding.


Consciousness is otherness, as Mikhail Bakhtin puts it.


So, teacher as parent, birthing life? Not quite. Rather, teacher as one who “inspires,” i.e., who gives his or her own breath to the self that lies now inside you, semi-conscious and still, but ready at a moment’s notice to shudder awake, blink rapidly, and take its first good look at this world of infinite possibility.


Image: Logo of the Centre for Global Studies in Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand

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