TITLE: Teaching and the Transformation of Self AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 08, 2015 2:14 PM DESC: ----- BODY: After reading What Wittgenstein Learned from Teaching Elementary School in The Paris Review, I think that, while Wittgenstein seems to have had some ideas for making elementary education better, I probably wouldn't want to have him as my teacher. This passage, though, really stuck with me:
We all struggle to form a self. Great teaching, Wittgenstein reminds us, involves taking this struggle and engaging in it with others; his whole life was one great such struggle. In working with poor children, he wanted to transform himself, and them.The experience of teaching grade school for six years seems to have changed Wittgenstein and how he worked. In his later work, he famously moved away from the idea that language could only function by picturing objects in the world. There is no direct evidence that working with children was the impetus for this shift, but "his later work is full of references to teaching and children". In particular, Philosophical Investigations begins its investigation of "the essence of language" by discussing how children learn language.
And Wittgenstein is sometimes explicit about the connection; he once said that in considering the meaning of a word, it's helpful to ask, "How would one set about teaching a child to use this word?"We all know that teaching can change the student, but foremost it changes the teacher. Wittgenstein seems to have understood that this is a part of the universal task of forming one's self. -----