The Devouring Teacher

The Devouring Teacher

“The importance of individual life may always be denied by the ‘educator’ whose pride it is to breed mass-men. But any other person will  sooner or later be driven to find this meaning for himself.” 

C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

The teacher is universally known as the harbinger of future knowledge and learning. It is the job of the teacher to educate their pupil on what is known about a subject—as well as the mantle of what has yet to be explored. Once the student has exhausted the knowledge of their teacher, it is the honor and expectation of the benevolent educator to be succeeded by them. A student that does not outgrow their teacher but instead, relies indefinitely on their tutelage and instructions, are considered intellectual stillborns. The onus often falls on the shoulder of the teacher who does not produce free thinkers.  

This, however, is not the code of the devouring teacher. Within their midst, they incubate and harbor an army of intellectual stillborns. 

The mark of a benevolent and skilled teacher is their methodical cultivation of free and critical thought. They discourage their students from parroting new information and embolden them to evaluate it all with a keen, impartial, and perceptive eye. As such, asking tough questions and challenging the veracity of ideas are welcomed—even at the expense of the student proving the teacher wrong. A student that is not afraid to dissent to an idea and presents valid reasoning to the objection is often the star pupil. They are the legacy the benevolent educator wishes to cultivate and unleash upon the world. A mind that is not only armed with knowledge but can wield its intellect with volition and integrity. 

The devouring teacher, however, conspires against the creation of such minds. The malevolent educator does not care to pass down the mantle of knowledge to the next generation of free-thinkers—nor to foster an environment of intellectual autonomy. The ego of the devouring teacher is bolstered by how many infantilized students they can heap up for themselves and keep under their unyielding guidance. They, however subtly, discourage probing and curious questions with a varying mix of condescension and evasion—while placing their expertise on an eternal pedestal. Their tutelage stifles self-reliance. Their teaching stamps out critical thinking. Their instruction instills fear of the unknown. They provide a feast of information for their pupils while consuming their self-knowledge in the way Khronos devoured his son.

The student of the devouring teacher becomes a hollowed vessel of textureless information. They cannot think nor reason for themselves what is true outside of explicit instruction. Despite this, they are armed with a nearly impenetrable self-assuredness in their beliefs. If the devouring teacher is especially skilled at manipulation, their victim will not even be aware of their curated thought systems. The devoured student will sit at the feet of their teacher long past what is necessary and will happily receive old knowledge in new skins—never the wiser to their own under-stimulated and emaciated minds. They do not question what is presented to them and they are willfully blind to any idea that contradicts what their instructor has said. The devoured student can remain in this state in perpetuity and often falls victim to other teachers of equally ill intent.

A person that recognizes these tendrils of the devouring teacher can break free of their parasitic influence. The mark of an intellectually autonomous student is one that respects the seniority of their teacher without submitting their minds over to them. The benevolent teacher will never desire that their pupils accept anything they say as the infallible truth. As such, a healthy student and teacher dynamic is one that is mutually respectful and, in which, both aim to be transformed by the learning experience. The malevolent educator does not respect the individuality of their students and, instead, aims to make them the unwitting mouthpiece of their ideology. The best way to avoid falling victim to the devouring teacher is to cultivate trust in one’s own ability to think. If at all a person questions if they can think, the act of questioning alone proves the ability. The malevolent educator cannot stand in the light of a student that trusts their own mind.

The role of the educator is a time-honored position across every culture throughout time. The sacred bond between the student and the teacher is what pushes the edge of innovation and improves quality of life. For all the benevolent teachers in the world, however, there are educators who wish to use the power of education for nefarious purposes and devour their students to feed their own sense of grandeur. They are thieves who steal away the minds of those who do not hold fast to them. The free-thinking student that honors their mind as much as that of their teacher will not fall victim to the cannabilism of the malevolent educator. They will not meet the fate of the devoured student who, when consumed, the only thing left behind is a hollowed shell of knowledge.

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