The Art Of Teaching
Here's something bizarre: In my PhD program, I took upwards of a hundred credit hours of coursework, but I wasn't required to take a single course on how to teach. And that's not atypical. The first time I was ever asked to teach a course as a grad student, I simply received a form letter with my name and the name of the course on it. Next thing I knew, I was in the lion's den of a state university auditorium classroom.
Not having a clue, I cast about for help, and chanced upon the classic text, The Art Of Teaching (1950), by Gilbert Highet. It is a riot of a book – colorful, carpeted with sweeping generalizations, and oozing passion for the profession. After just a few paragraphs, I completely forgot to take notes. One wishes all academic writing were this full of personality and idiosyncrasy. Here’s a precious little sample from it:
It is an essential of good teaching to like the pupils. If you do not actually like boys and girls, or young men and young women, give up teaching. It is easy to like the young because they are young. They have no faults, except the very ones which they are asking you to eradicate: ignorance, shallowness, and inexperience. The really hateful faults are those which we grown men and women have. Some of these grow on us like diseases, others we build up and cherish as though they were virtues. Ingrained conceit, calculated cruelty, deep-rooted cowardice, slobbering greed, vulgar self-satisfaction, puffy laziness of mind and body--these and other real sins result from years, decades of careful cultivation. They show on our faces, they ring harsh or hollow in our voices, they have become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. The young do not sin in those ways. Heaven knows they are infuriatingly lazy and unbelievably stupid and sometimes detestably cruel -- but not for long, not all at once, and not (like grownups) as a matter of habit or policy.