Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A rather sad reputation ...

There are many people who hold a dim view of teaching and teachers. I have pointed out in the past interesting expressions of such views by Nietsche, and by some of our own.

I found this morning, through a post by Kieran Healy, some juicy quotes which just prove the point that maligning academics is a business that is alive and well.

Just a couple of them here:

Kieran quotes from Patrick O'Brian in The Ionian Mission:

"...teaching young gentlemen has a dismal effect upon the soul. It exemplifies the badness of established, artificial authority. The pedagogue has almost absolute authority over his pupils: he often beats them and insensibly loses the sense of respect due to them as fellow human beings. He does them harm, but the harm they do him is far greater. He may easily become the all-knowing tyrant, always right, always virtuous; in any event he perpetually associates with his inferiors, the king of his company; and in a surprisingly short time alas this brands him with the mark of Cain."

Harry Hutton, in his comments on Kieran's post, offers this one by H.L. Mencken:

The truth is that the average schoolmaster, on all the lower levels, is and always must be essentially and next door to an idiot, for how can one imagine an intelligent man engaging in so puerile an avocation?

I suggest you read Kieran's post and the comments. I found a few more such quotes by doing a bit of googling. Here is another one from the legendary H.L. Mencken, whose writing is a veritable source of juicy quotes on all kinds of things:

Of all the human qualities, the one I admire the most is competence. A tailor who is really able to cut and fit a coat seems to me an admirable man, and by the same token a university professor who knows little or nothing of the thing he presumes to teach seems to me to be a fraud and a rascal.

and, finally, this one from the great Mark Twain:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

If you know any more of these quotes, as someone put it so memorably less than two years ago, "Bring'em on!".