In high school I had one English teacher who saw the life in me and tried to develop it. At the time, I was not ready. Many years later I remembered his efforts, and I was moved. By this time, I had finished four years of forestry school and worked for the Forest Service in Montana. Then, I spent a year trying to find myself in Europe. I wasn't there. But when I remembered Mr. Del Judice's efforts to wake me from the lethargy that was my adolescence, I better understood the role of the teacher, the teacher in the broad sense, and I wanted to become one.
My reason for entering the teaching profession was the desire to "stimulate and guide." I think I do this now. To stimulate requires some worldliness, a wide-ranging resource of knowledge/memory to draw from so that a teacher might find the "particular" needed to motivate a group of students as well as the individual student. Guiding requires an effort to remain relatively "hands off" when working with a student's writing which, in effect, is both the development of the student's ideas and the student's "self development." To "guide" is not easy, but I know of no more worthy endeavor.
My work with students is also an exchange. I, like all teachers, must continue to read and live, live and read, connect and reconnect, discover and rediscover, but it's through my work with my students and the continued exchange of new ideas and fresh insight that I hope to, as teacher, remain "alive with living thoughts."
So I teach all my courses as interdisciplinary courses; a fine way to keep thoughts alive. Much of textbook learning is that -- textbook learning. Bringing ideas out into the light of other disciplines keeps them alive and growing. We can easily see that there will be so many chances for fresh insights -- between disciplines, between teachers, between students, between teachers and students. As teachers, we often remain too long in the vacuum of our disciplines. Students sense this and may see instructors as people with a narrow focus. Teaching in an interdisciplinary course gives instructors that vital but rare chance to broaden their focus, an example students need.