John Rosenberg

JOHN ROSENBERG:

I’m John Rosenberg, Associate Dean in the College of Humanities and a professor of Spanish.

Uh, I think a well-educated teacher is---extremely difficult to define.  Um, ------I would probably approach the---the notion of the well-educated teacher thinking a little bit about the model of---the prophet Joseph, which is a little bit of a strange direction to come from.  Um, but who gave us a pattern of---learning as lifestyle that became firmly embedded into our theology.  And that anyone who would pretend to be a teacher, whether that be in the church or whether that be as a profession, would invest heavily in that lifestyle and in that theology as not only a life-long learner, as reflected in the limits of mortality, but as a pattern of being, that defines who we are in an eternal essence.  And that in that sense the well-educated teacher is one who commits to providing a model of that on-going self-education, uh, uh, as the primary means of educating others.  Um, and I think that there are a lot of different ways than to measure that, uh, to evaluate in ourselves whether those characteristics are present.  I think some of the things there would include being thoughtful consumers of information that is available to us.  Uh, the whole range of information, sacred information, as well as professional information.  Um, -----and I think that it----involves a very strong sense of stewardship, that the well-educated teacher is one who understands his or her particular setting in the broad context of the institution and the institution of democracy.  And is passionately committed to his or her role in sustaining the health of that particular institution.

General education, in my view, is nothing more or nothing less than---the------general education, in my view, is nothing more or nothing less than accepting the invitation to walk through a door that admits us to the human conversation, in all of the richness and challenges and ambiguities and perplexities that that conversation suggests and that teachers, true teachers are facilitators in that conversation and enablers, uh---guarantors of the richness and the inclusively of that conversation.  So in my view the relationship between general education and teaching is the same relationship as between, uh, conversation, uh, and those who powerfully and persuasively are able to invite others to the table, uh, and to find their voice, uh, at that table as full participants in the human conversation.

I think the poorly educated teacher, uh, is one who is---so embedded in the voice of his or her discipline that he or she is incapable of hearing the voices that are coming from other parts of the table.  And so it is in essence an experience of isolation----as opposed to one of conversation.

The---dispositional side of competent and caring teaching, in my view, is one that recognizes that education is so much greater than the specifics of the discipline.  Is one in which we embrace in our practice as well as in our rhetoric the concept that we are teaching students and not subject matter, and that by teaching students we are inviting them to engage in this broad and complex conversation of humanity.  Um, and so there is, um, I think involved in the disposition a sense of helping others discover their own voices rather than in surrendering to the seductive pleasure of---that comes from the authority of our own voice, that, um, is so appealing, uh, initially, uh, in the teaching profession.

I think one of the trademarks of a well educated person and therefore of a well-educated teacher is the facility---is---is the ease with which they can engage new learning.  And so someone who is truly well educated has very flexible boundaries.  Uh, they are able to, uh, expand themselves relatively easy into areas that may have been unfamiliar to them.  And rather than being threatened, uh, by that unknown, there is a sense of adventure there, uh, a willingness to take risks, to expose, uh, ignorance, uh---uh---uh---or innocence, um---uh, for the sake of the joy of the discovery.  Um, and---and so the well-educated person is able to demonstrate in very, um, unobtrusive ways, uh that excitement for the thing just acquired.  I suppose one who is wealthy in economic terms is excited, uh, to exhibit the recent acquisition of some material thing.  The well-educated person, it seems to me, has that same enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, insight, compassion, whatever has been acquired as a result of that adventure.

Well I---I don’t know that there’s, uh, nothing would come to mind of something that I was dying to say---um---um---in terms of the challenges of---of---achieving everything that a university education, um, might provide, uh, many of them are economic.  Um, there are issues, uh, associated with class size, uh, faculty load, uh there are centuries old, uh, traditions about the way we categorize knowledge and therefore the way we deliver, uh, that kind of knowledge.  Uh, and, uh---those categories, uh, were not arbitrary, there were very good reasons why they grew up the way that they did, uh, but sometimes our adherence to those categories, uh, today at the beginning of the 21st century is somewhat arbitrary.  And I think one of the real opportunities that we have in general education in particular is to find a way to bridge the categories.  To see all of these different knowledge domains, whether it be, uh, science, uh, math, uh, fine arts, uh---oh---social sciences, whatever it might be, to see all of those as, uh, vibrant and essential voices, uh, in this human conversation and to find ways to, um, to acquire, as it were, second language fluency and third language fluency.  Uh---uh---m----most of, uh, our experience at universities, I think, is to teach us, uh, to be very good, uh, monolinguals in the voice of our own discipline.  Uh, great general education teaches us to be fluent in other languages and other voices and other domains and with that fluency comes all of the benefits, uh, that we associate with learning, uh---uh, other kinds of languages, uh---uh, foreign languages is traditionally described.