I have written about teaching and breaking boundaries, have spoken about the risks a teacher faces whenever she crosses the line even in small ways. And yet, I find myself facing the same challenges. When I hire students to teach for the university, at the Young Writers' Institute, when I take their information and tell them what they will be paid, they then unconsciously think they have permission to stop attending my classes, to not hand in work on time, etc. They start hugging me. They take me by surprise, and yet, the behavior is not a surprise.
Undergraduates seem to lack the maturity to integrate a frame break into their learning experience. So now I'm going on record here as saying that from now on I will seek to hire only graduate students and professionals (songwriters, for example), to teach at the Young Writers' Institute. I will not hire even the most talented undergraduates if they are currently in my classes. While in my classes, the framework will be impeccably maintained. It's all about the students, their learning. They will not be paid to work for me.
We can't test the frame and expect learning to take place, it's selfish of us to even try.
We can't cheat death and that's what the frame break tries to do--"I'm an exception, see how this teacher values me!" Always disastrous. I'm training poets, not Freudian analysts, but at the undergraduate level, I need to be as strict about boundaries as someone who is training healers. Especially so in dreamworks where the content is all about inner work.
My book on teaching is called "The Art of College Teaching: 28 Takes," co-edited with April Morgan, University of Tennessee Press, 2007. My essay, "Beyond the Three Bears: What I Know Now," deals in part with the implications of frame breaks in the classroom. There's a classic essay in the book, "Boundaries and Frames: Nontransference and Teaching," by Robert Langs, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in London, author of 43 books. I'll reread his essay tonight!
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.