Thursday, May 10, 2012

“What Does Teaching Do to Teachers?” Willard Waller’s Sociology of Teaching Reconsidered

In this study, Willard Waller’s (1932/1976) classic account of what teaching does to teachers is examined through the lens of psychoanalytic theory in conjunction with Ovid’s myth of Narcissus. Parallel themes within the two texts are analyzed and interpreted as suggesting that narcissistic psychological processes played a part in distorting teachers’ personalities in the 1930s. Role expectations and tasks associated with being a teacher, it is suggested, reinforced a narcissistic pattern of behavior that influenced identity formation and teacher stereotypes. Transformation is considered in light of contemporary psychoanalytic understandings of narcissistic disturbances and interpretations of the Narcissus myth, recent relevant research in cognitive science, and implications for transforming educational practice.

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