What would it mean to
TEACH WITHOUT EGO?
Since returning from Lake Qinghai and the grasslands of Tibet. I have been contemplating this idea deeply, using it as a mantra to keep me grounded in a variety of scenarios.
Because, as a teacher, it’s amazing how often I bump into my ego. Not to mention the egos of my colleagues. The worst is when you encounter two egos in the hallway duking it out, however politely. You know it’s time to back away slowly.
What is “ego”? It is a projection of the self, a self that is separate and different and special from the other selves in this world. It is the source of identity and self esteem. It is the driver of the question, “Who am I?” Its importance is culturally constructed and particularly celebrated in modern America.
It is also divisive and a barrier to compassion. It is at the root of exclusion, indifference, and hate. It breeds insecurity, fear, jealousy, and competition. And as teachers, it can be a detriment to our practice.
There are a good articles on this idea, from teachers of various disciplines:
But it’s hard. Because don’t we teach who we are? Don’t we need to “guide [students] with a strong sense of self?”
The danger is this:
In those moments I am learning not to fight, not to defend, not to protect, not to promote. I am learning to let go. When “I” am at the center of my practice, the world my students and I are creating together feels fragile and destabilized, tilted in the direction of a self-concerned perspective. When my students are at the center of my practice, our world seems infinitely more solid.
In pursuing this idea, I meditate on these questions:
- In what ways does my ego support the development of my teaching practice?
- In what ways does my ego impede the development of my teaching practice?
- In what ways does my ego improve my relationships with students and colleagues?
- In what ways does my ego make relationships with students and colleagues more difficult?
- In what ways can I work with greater compassion?