My Teaching Philosophy
In Greek and Celtic mythology there is a story of a famous innkeeper who promises his guests a wonderful night’s sleep if they will stay at his inn, and enjoy his magical bed. When his guests complain that his beds are too short or too long, he assures them that they will grow accustomed to these new accommodations, and he sends them back off to bed.
As soon as his guests fall off to sleep, he sneaks into their rooms and—with the fantastic swiftness of many myths—he cuts off their legs or stretches them. “What better way to provide for the perfect fit for his guests?’ he thinks.
When we teach the Humanities, we start with the “guest”—the student. As much as we want to show our students the “magic” and liberation, and the growth and self-discovery that the humanities can offer them, we must always remember that what they need from us is not the story of that joy—but the tools for finding it themselves.
Thus, rather than promise a good’s night sleep—or a life of convictions and fulfillment—we model it. We model for our students the passion, the responsibility, and the deliberateness with which we come to our own studies, and we make them colleagues in that journey. In making them colleagues, we learn about their particular interests and goals—and in turn, we become allies in showing them the degree to which their particular goals are part of a complex of other disciplines, other intellectual questions. In other words, we help them to see connections—connections, not just between intellectual questions and disciplines, but also between human beings and each human being’s individual journey.
- M. B. McLatchey