Friday, October 12, 2007

Teach me Stuff!

Matthew Kahn's fine Environmental and Urban Economics blog is one I have long found very interesting and educational.

Today he made a post, entirely off-topic of the blog, that I, as an ex-academic still somewhat close to that world, found rather interesting. I have been on both sides of the teaching relationship and can only say I have watched the puritanism that denies a pretty fundamentally erotic nature to that relationship spread its influence in creating all sorts of love-denying codes.

One of my favourite movie scenes is in Louis Malle's wonderful Atlantic City, a scene in which Susan Sarandon's character says to Burt Lancaster's "Teach me stuff" (or the like, though I think those were the words). She delivers it exactly so you can see the total mix of longings in the request. And it has to do with all aspects of the teacher/student relationship in general, not just that she wants to become a better gambler.

I now work in private industry and our management have to work very hard to deal with the enormous networks of conflicts of interest that arise from the relationships among the various employees (as is mentioned in the article quoted in the post). Particularly in high-tech, many collegial relationships in the workplace are full of teacher-student aspects. To me this seems a far more intelligent approach than blanket prohibitions hiding behind pseudo-moral justifications.

That post above is worth reading. The issues are delicate, but they surely deserve a delicate response, not a sledgehammer. And I bet the sledgehammers merely cause more deception.



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