This article examines what it means to be a person in the role of teacher by drawing on an extended philosophical and field-based study. The author interacted closely, over the course of two years, with sixteen teachers from eight different public schools in a culturally diverse U.S. metropolis. The study included extensive classroom visits, whole-group discussion meetings, and a systematic series of individual interviews. A central aim of these activities was to establish ethical proximity with the teachers: (a) to keep company with them in an ongoing, long-term manner, in order to be immersed in their “presence,” and (b) to accompany them, which entailed looking at and considering teaching through an awareness of their eros as teachers: that is, their deepest purposes, hopes, and yearnings regarding education’s promise. The author draws upon this proximity by attending to the practice and perspectives of Linus, one of the participating teachers. The author deploys a framework of “bearing witness” that is grounded in the humanities. This orientation illuminates aesthetic, moral, and epistemic dimensions of what it means to be a person in the role of teacher and what it means for the role to constitute part of the person’s very makeup as a human being.


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pp. 21-48
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