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California State University, Dominguez Hills
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Created: November 6, 2001
Latest Update: August 10, 2003

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Collaborative Journal entry by Lisa J. Stevens,
also known in the tech world of 2003 as a Blog entry.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2003.
"Fair use" encouraged.

On Tuesday, November 6, 2001, Lisa J. Stevens wrote:
Subject: What is learning, what is a teacher.

Dear jeanne:

I was complaining to a good friend of mine about not doing "perfectly" on a test in a theory class. He is also a therapist, and this is the letter he sent back. Why I am sharing it with you is because it reminds me of you and all that you stand for.

I respect you guys and thank you for reminding me of what is important.

see you tomorrow...lisa

The letter:

I understand about the theory teacher.

It's said that:
Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
And those who can't teach, write books.

My guess is you could shuffle the "books" out, and insert "teach theory." It would be about the same.

Best teachers I ever had loved what they were doing. In High School, it was where they wanted to be. In college it was about teaching you how to work with them, cause they really needed the help out there in the real world, so everything in class was geared that way....

"Sure this is theory, but this is how you use that awareness... to decide who you are, or how you want to be in the world or as you work. It will have little to do with the work you're doing however, unless you're trying to write another book for some class you're teaching or want to teach.

Most famous therapist I ever knew well was Harold Greenwald (Direct Decision Therapy - a short therapy model and one of the first). He used to debate Albert Ellis on the pros and cons of various practice and styles of practice at APA conventions. . . . Harold once told me that if you really want to get a license, you'll have to study the books. If you really want to do therapy, study poetry. His point was that therapy, where the work is really done, is in the being human with another human. Poetry trains the heart for that connection. Books train the mind for exams (and if you're studying math, they teach you logic).

Don't lose the focus, my friend. Just be who you be, and you'll be fine. Strive to be clear with you... in what you're doing, priorities, the when and where, for this or that, etc. A 4.0 doesn't mean [diddly squat] to a man or woman, adult or child who's in crisis, and even those that are less in crisis and just wonderin' what's up. They all want to know that they can be heard, and that they'll be supported in moving the direction you both come to decide on going in. They'd like to believe you know how to say, "I don't know" when it's true, and they admire that you're willing to go an extra step to look it up, or teach them how, or even refer them to someone who knows "that topic" or "that style" better than you.

You're doing fine.

On August 10, 2003 jeanne wrote:

Lisa, I know this is a little late. But then that's why we keep this site and its community going. So our fifteen minutes of discretionary time for theoretical thinking can slip in wherever they fit over the years. I came across this today, as I was trying to update all the indexes and clean up all the old files on the site. To my absolute amazement, it fits right into what I'm writing today.

Maybe this means your friend is right; poetry may be a piece of the answer. Certainly aesthetics is. And I want all our students who are struggling this Fall with Bakhtin's concept of the aesthetic process of answerability to read your friends words. No technical jargon, just community formed through aesthetics in this normative world.

Look forward to hearing from you. It's been many weeks.

love and peace, jeanne