Saturday, August 23, 2014

Contextual differences

Teaching is not an engineering problem. It isn’t a question of transferring a certain quantity of information from one brain to another. “Educate” means “lead forth.” A teacher’s job is to lead forth the powers that lie asleep within her students.
Thus sayeth William Deresiewicz, would-be speaker of useful truths who is too passionately enamored of the monumental urgency of his cause to bother to speak carefully. But where have we heard these particular tropes about education before? Oh yes, here:
I have no doubt Miss Mackay wishes to question my methods of instruction. It has happened before. It will happen again. Meanwhile, I follow my principles of education and give of my best in my prime. The word education comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is leading out of what is already in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion, from the Latin root prefix in meaning in and term trudo, I thrust. Miss Mackay’s method is to thrust a lot of information into the pupil’s head; mine is a leading out of knowledge, and that is true education as is proved by the root meaning. Now Miss Mackay has accused me of putting ideas into my girls' heads, but in fact that is her practice and mine is quite the opposite. Never let it be said that I put ideas into your heads.
Is Deresiewicz being ironic then? I doubt it (though if he were, my estimation of him would undoubtedly skyrocket). But Spark certainly is. So beware.

1 comment:

Ben A said...

Love the Miss Jean Brodie pull on Deresiewicz.

My cultural association with his TNR essay was less high-toned: Pulp's "Common People."

No doubt taking a waitressing job you don't need will teach you something, but probably will not reliably increase moral Enlightenment (or that piece of Enlightenment which prevents one from being an entitled little shit). Everybody hates a tourist.

The Shatner cover is pretty good.