Why Teach?

As many of you know, I have just begun my very last seminar at Mt Holyoke College. I have a fine group of new students, half of whom are from South Asia. We will be studying another version of What in the World Is Going On? This time, focusing on global capitalism and its deep connections with our current climate crisis. The main readings will be Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything, Fred Magdoff: What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism, Steger: Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, and Joanna Macy: Active Hope. It should be a splendid way to finish up my long teaching career at the college.

But I write to pass on a stunning quote from Thomas Mann, the distinguished German novelist of the first half of the 20th century (Magic Mountain, for example).

“a vocation towards educating others does not spring from inner harmony, but rather from inner uncertainties, disharmony, difficulty – from the difficulty of knowing one’s own self.”

This seems to me both wise and stunningly accurate, for teaching has led me deeper and deeper into both my self and the world. Such a blessing!

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