About Me

Find out more about me here.

10 November 2016

Trouble Teaching the Self

Quick teaching note. I encounter a recurring problem teaching the self. Students imagine core sociological theory as a failing, as deviance, as running against human nature. I don't mean that students reject or disagree with the theories. I mean that they accept the theories but compartmentalize them instead of seeing them as universal. For example, when I teach the Looking-glass Self, students often make comments along the lines of, "Why can't people just be themselves?" and "Some people are such followers!" Part of this, of course, is that it's difficult to imagine oneself being affected by social forces. We like to imagine ourselves as being completely agential and above the fray. More than this, though, I think that students have been primed by platitudes, memes, and inspirational posters to think deeply individualistically. Social theories, like the Looking-glass Self, however, are quite radical! What most claim is that you are not you apart from how you interact with others. (More broadly, I think that we can say that the social precedes the individual.) To say that this is anathema in a culture that valorizes the heroic individual is an understatement. I shouldn't be surprised when students interpret such theory as aberrant. It takes just a little preemptive persuasion to avoid this.

No comments:

Post a Comment