Promising Truths, in Fiction & Teaching: Sincerity

Scott Jarvie


In this essay, Jarvie makes the case for teaching as a sincere act. By that, he does not mean the conventional notion of operating without “pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy” (OED), but instead a more radical uptake drawn from literature—fiction (e.g., Egan, 2010; Eggers, 2001; Wallace, 2001)—and literary theory (Kelly, 2016) that understands the concept as “always contaminated internally by the threat of manipulating the other…this sincerity depends not on purity but on trust and faith” (Kelly, 2016, p. 201). Such a sincerity offers educators ways of teaching hopefully, bringing forth themselves in conversation with students. It offers a way of rethinking teaching as primarily and problematically a manipulative and impositional act, a mode of imagining pedagogy beyond the dichotomy between oppressive transmission pedagogies and liberatory critical ones. Jarvie suggests that if we’re going to humanize (Paris & Winn, 2013) our work as educators and scholars of education, a renewed theorizing that affirms the role of the teacher as relationally important, as having something to offer through the communication of their selves, can enrich the work of teaching—as an extension of teachers’ lives, as creative and communal, compelling, complex, and deeply personal work—in ways that prove fruitful for both teachers and students. 


sincerity; teaching; critique; relationality

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