Friday, September 5, 2014
Joseph Epstein on Teaching
"Carried out conscientiously, conducted at a high level, conveyed with proper passion, teaching is an arduous task....[T]here is a sense in which teaching, like opera, is a performing art. Not only must the teacher get up his subject, but he must get it across. There is many a tried, but no true, method for doing this: Socratic teasing, sonorous lecturing, sympathetic discussion; passionate argument, witty exposition, dramatics and other sorts of derring-do; plain power of personal example, main force of intellect, and sometimes even bullying. But these are all matters of technique and vary from one teacher to the next. What all the great teachers appear to have in common is love of their subject, an obvious satisfaction in arousing this love in their students, and an ability to convince them that what they are being taught is deadly serious." - Joseph Epstein, "Introduction" in Joseph Epstein, ed., Masters: Portraits of Great Teachers (New York: Basic Books, 1981), xi-xii.