Welcoming the other: Encouragement in education
Central to our own personal development and fulfillment is the support and encouragement of the people surrounding us. But what, exactly, is encouragement? What is it about encouragement that is so crucial to our development? What inspires us to encourage one another? Following the phenomenological and deconstructive strategies of GW.F. Hegel, R.D. Laing, and Jacques Derrida, I argue that, rather than being a gesture projected from a sovereign self-identical "subject," encouragement is project that only emerges within the context of intersubjective life and through the revelation of one's responsibility toward an "other" who is precisely impossible to fix according to terms one has imposed upon her in advance. This analysis offers us useful insights into the nature of pedagogy, showing that teaching and learning take place within an interpersonal dynamic of mutual fulfillment, rather than through a simple transfer of information from one being to another.