Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Teaching, Teaching and More Teaching

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 23, 2017

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So, where, whom and why do I teach? The where is easy: UCLA, New Center for Psychoanalysis and LMU (sometimes). The whom, is also easy. I teach psychiatry residents, child psychiatry fellows and psychotherapists. The why is the challenging question. It keeps me stimulated mentally and it keeps me feeling young and in touch with the next generation. That is the short answer. The longer answer is more complicated. Do I like the admiration that sometimes results from a teacher/student relationship? Yes, and no, is my answer. Yes, it sometimes feels good, but no, with that admiration comes the flip side of “falling down” at times, as the student matures professionally. The teacher/student relationship, like the parent/child relationship is fraught with both idealization and devaluation. Like raising a child, in the beginning, there is a feeling of deep love, on both sides, but as the relationship develops over time, the dynamics get more nuanced, more layered with good and bad feelings. To teach is to grow, I would like to say, and I believe that to be true. Yet, with all growth, comes pain, and struggle, and so the challenges are large. I see myself as a life-long student, and as such, I have signed up for the life-long struggle of learning, growing, and expanding, which can feel exciting, but it can also feel  remarkably humbling. No one said growing is easy, and so it is not.

2 Responses to “Teaching, Teaching and More Teaching”

  1. Shelly said

    I love your reasoning. But to teach, one really has to love the art, the interaction, and sometimes to be humiliated. I certainly could never do it, of course. Speaking in front of others, no matter how prepared I would ever be, is not something I could ever do. I respect you so much! I would think this would be a very good way to stay on top of your field without really trying because to prepare to teach something, you need to master all the newest and latest publications, don’t you? Your students will be on top of all the latest journal articles and therefore you need to be too. Good for you for coming up with a means to stimulate yourself, keep up with the latest news in the field, being a part of training new professionals in your field, having a busy practice and giving so much to your medical community.

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