My Dec.1 comment alludes to what Parker Palmer expands upon in The Courage to Teach. In chapter 4, “Knowing in Community: Joined by the Grace of Great Things” and Chapter 5: “Teaching in Community: A Subject Centered Education” he discusses the dead end of both an objectivist and relativist approach to learning. Rather, we should focus on a subject, which can neither be completely “known” nor is it merely what we from our perspective “make it out to be.”
On the lowest level, he pictures a kindergarten classroom in which the teacher reads a story about an elephant. (p120) The students become so taken with the subject that they are enamored with its size, its use of its trunk, its big feet, its weight, its tiny tail… As they discuss the elephantness of an elephant, they “forget themselves” as they all, along with the teacher, grow in their understanding of elephant.
Such is the goal of the teacher. To engage all the students, along with the teacher, with the dynamic, living subject that claims their attention. The subject could be a skill, a new awareness, or a concept. Students who immerse (in a sense, “lose”) themselves in a subject experience growth on multiple levels, especially as they do it in concert with fellow students.