The Wounded Teacher
Self Care, Stories, Teach/Heal
July 17th, 2020
Throughout my life I have contemplated the role of a teacher. I actually have written about it numerous times in my previous blogs, sharing my reluctance in stepping into this role. We tend to be reluctant in moving towards our actual capacity. It is our skill at something that can be sometimes scary as f*ck, expecially when the role has wielded such levels of toxic authority figures throughout our lives in this white supremacist capitalist patriarchal world. Our teachers can be some of the first outside of the home authority figures we are introduced to. You always remember your favourite teachers and you try to forget those that left uncomfortable impressions. I have heard of so much trauma experienced through the hands of teachers. I remember learning as well very early on, that the main supreme listened to figure, was white and male. Which I clearly was not.
As I then stepped into my decades within the modern yoga industry, which had a series of white male authority figures as the wise gurus of appropriated teachings, I realized over time of some very key things. (1) Teachers held a position of power that was shown in charisma, confidence, strength and the capacity to empower others, which in turn was keeping the oppressor/oppressed cycles alive and well. (ie. ‘I have the power and you don’t, so come learn from me‘) (2) Teachers would throw around their knowledge and years of teaching as if it gave them even more ultimate authority – the more that you know equated the more that you could lord your knowledge over another – even if you weren’t the greatest teacher, you deserved to be listened to because of experience. (3) Teachers were of course healing from the same supremacist system, so were sharing their wounds and biases in the use of language, as well as keeping alive an imbalance of knowledge via levels of achievement that would then grant you the ability to receive certain mysteries and secrets. Oh yeah, and I saw this all within the majority of people that took on the teacher role, no matter what their gender.
These commonalities then led further into spiritual teachers. It was interesting really, for I loved to learn, then would move towards another teacher and be the ‘perfect student’. I would listen to everything they said, and do whatever they asked. I realized now sometimes I assisted in creating the monster I describe. I then, would allow this same power deferential be explored in my own teaching. I became the monster at times, absolutely. The oppressor/oppressed cycle is an interesting one? It’s as if we are given one role, then sometimes try on the other for a time to see what it’s like.
I then moved through teaching English literature to overachieving kids and experienced more layers of this teaching role. We were taught that listening and doing the work is worthwhile because it will be rewarded. That a numeric grade will equate our value to society and share our capacity for intelligence. As well, that our intelligence will be further rewarded as we proceed through life. I also came to realize that teachers are the least rewarded, regularly overworked, tired as f*ck and have to deal with shuffling children through a system that rewards the few and makes minions out of the many.
Navigating teaching others while processing the shitstorm that comes with being a teacher has been immense. The ego trips, the ingrained ‘my way is the only way and the right way‘, as well as ‘you must listen to me for I speak the truth and know a lot‘ lurk around some sweetly shady corners. I then see it mirrored in what is deemed to be successful business, which is when you have received a lot of money for selling your version of the truth to someone else that would clearly not be able to do so on their own. ‘I have the fast answer to your multitude of problems‘, ‘look at me, I have it all figured out, I have perfected my life in so many ways‘, you’ve heard the pitch.
Mastering the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy system is learning how to win in a system that literally only works by killing those that it doesn’t work for. The vast majority of unlearning that has to be done is from things we have been taught. Let’s face it – the books we were told to read, the way his-story was shared of the earth, what to think and how to do it was shared by our teachers. And then, we gleefully step into wanting to share more knowledge as we grow older, and charge for it? Many have heard of the wounded healer, well guess what – there is a big loving wounded teacher out there that is trying to get you to listen to them, now. I see many, and it is a constant reflection on what and how I project myself. I have moved through cycles and layers of the wounded healer, as well as the wounded teacher. I am not promising that I carry the key of how to move through all the wounds, for I have found healing comes in cycles and trust there are many more to come. But I can share some musings.
What then makes a humble teacher? Is it an oxymoron? Is there a possibility of sharing wisdom instead? Of sharing stories from personal experience and how you are vulnerable and messed up too? Is there a way to step off the pedestal that has not been fun to be on, and will make you constantly strive for a perfection that is unattainable and supremacist in nature? Can you then share your truth and be okay with that truth changing as you continue to heal, grow, and move through life? Are you okay with being wrong? Are you okay with reflecting how creation is healing is growth is learning is constantly moving and evolving? Are you okay with sharing teachings that may be inapplicable in 10 years? Are you okay with giving away your studies learned to someone that may not fully listen, and may utilize the same studies in a completely different way? I know that I have had to face these questions, every one.
The more I reflect on supremacist systems and how they have infiltrated so much of our bodies, minds and lives… the more I must relinquish of holding titles of authority and achieving levels of authority granted. What if instead of needing to market what you do by sharing it is the answer and has made your life perfect, maybe share the truth? That it is a combination of tools that have helped you navigate the tumult and chaos of our bodies and worlds. That you are doing the work as well. That you don’t have it all figured out. Why must we have it all figured out? Isn’t the movement of life growth and learning anyways?
Welcome to my head and heart. I am navigating how to shift from a supremacist capitalist patriarchal mindset in what I do. I have found some guidelines to work. I love to share with those that are interested in creating relationships. Ones that have boundaries that can change over time. Ones that require regular communication to ensure they feel mutually agreeable. Where our presence is honoured. Where trust can be established over time and not just granted. Where teachings may be intermingled with stories, feelings and queries. Where we can move slowly through the cycles together. Where we work to dismantle the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal system that is even found in the teacher-student relationship. How sweet is it to know that we can all be learning from many, and that those lessons will be shared in different ways by unique voices in agreed upon settings? Learning and growth in agreement, in relationship. Wow, I like the sound of that. I think I’ll try it.