Photo of University Hall
Creative Research Center

The Revealed Truth of Learning in the Classroom – by Neil Baldwin

Posted in: Director's Essay


Last year, at about this time, I published an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education that delved into my epiphany that affect supercedes subject in the college classroom.

Last week, at semester’s end, I sent the following note to my Honors Poetry Seminar:

Dear Everybody – I decided to share some final thoughts with you as the course is ending — to respond to the whole class in writing, instead of one person at a time, like i have been doing all semester.

my most important message to you is something i have learned as a teacher.

as you can probably tell by now, i have been teaching for a very long time, and i do not believe that a teacher’s job is just to convey/transmit information over to the student.

i do not believe that “subject matter” is the key to doing this job effectively.

rather, i believe that the most important thing a teacher can leave with a student is the ability to learn how to learn.

i even wrote and published an essay about it — if you have the time to read it, and are interested: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

And so, in this respect, i can honestly say that, for me, this class has been a success, because i have fulfilled my mission as a teacher.

i am NOT saying that you didn’t “know how to learn” before you took my class. i am saying that i experienced the sensation of watching and hearing and reading you do it over the course of the past few months.

this is a thank-you letter. i appreciate that some of you thanked me in your journals, or in person, but now, it is my turn to thank you for being here and allowing yourselves to expand your minds and imaginations into the universe of world poetry and seek out the revealed truth there…

…and for being brave about the new feelings you uncovered and disclosed — that is what aletheia ἀλήθεια is all about

and that is why i brought it up so emphatically in class and wrote it on the board: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

my one parting hope is that the door you have opened in this class will REMAIN open – and that is up to you.