I began this chapter of “Unifying Essence and Existence” rather confused. I had a hard time grasping what Jackson was trying to say regarding the essence of an entity verses its existence, and how they come together. It wasn’t the concept of essence or the existence itself that was throwing me off, but rather the theological answers and the existential questions that unify the two. I still don’t think I fully understand it. By Dewey’s asking of the questions regarding education, what does it mean to infer education? (39) Jackson says that the essence of education “cannot be divulged empirically; it can only be inferred. that process of inferring is where the relation between essence and existence come in.” (39) I’m not quite sure how to unify or even to separate the two. I know we talked about this in an earlier chapter briefly, but coming to it like this was a little confusing for me. Perhaps the class discussion will help.
I did think, however, that the idea of what goes on between a teacher and a student being conserving, transmitting, rectifying, and expanding to be very interesting. There is both the elliptical and horizontal motion of thought. And yet besides the practical and mundane things that a teacher does, there is the lofty view of teaching.
I’ve never thought about separating lofty and mundane views of teaching. Perhaps the reason is because I’ve never taught in a classroom, so I only have lofty thoughts about what it means to be a teacher. After next year (while I’m student teaching), I will probably see more of the mundane aspect of teaching. Yet, why would teachers be wiling to do such mundane things if they did not have a high and lofty view of education? That is my question. Why would teachers do what they do if they didn’t care? It’s not like being a teacher pays very much.
I liked how Jackson ended his chapter with a discussion on “receiving” and “shaping.” I thought that it brought his lofty versus mundane discussion to a very neat ending. If as teachers we realize that we are shaping our students, then we should have the lofty goals of shaping our students to be excellent human beings. Yet the involvement of shaping requires day to day mundane tasks. By realizing that we are receiving and shaping our students, the lofty/essence and mundane/existence is brought together to be unified.