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Teaching in the First Person

Understanding Voice and Vocabulary in Learning Relationships


Elijah Mirochnik

The sharp contrasts in teachers’ metaphors for their relationships with students set the stage for a critical comparison of traditional, modern, and postmodern educational approaches. In Teaching in the First Person, three university undergraduate teachers’ metaphors for education emerge from their candid descriptions of interactions with their students. The rich vocabulary that the interviewed teachers used to portray their interactions with U.C. Berkeley undergraduate architecture students is woven into a larger examination of how assumptions that teachers hold about knowledge impact their treatment of students. The investigation of theory embedded within teachers’ narratives begins with a cogent historical overview of paradigm shifts within science, poetry, education, and philosophical theories of knowledge. A critique of harmful educational practices supported by the traditional «mind as machine» metaphor for knowledge invites educators to embrace the postmodern «bodily basis for knowing» as a viable alternative that radically redefines the teacher/student relationship.