Cory Leonard

Why Do I Teach? – Gary Gutting

In career on May 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Another version of Delbanco’s arguments–focusing on the value of a liberal education and the “dialogue” that students enter into with great ideas, authors, and worlds:

I’ve concluded that the goal of most college courses should not be knowledge but engaging in certain intellectual exercises…The goal of the course is simply that they have had close encounters with some great writing.What’s the value of such encounters?

They make students vividly aware of new possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment—pleasure, to give its proper name.  They may not enjoy every book we read, but they enjoy some of them and learn that—and how—this sort of thing Greek philosophy, modernist literature can be enjoyable.  They may never again exploit the possibility, but it remains part of their lives, something that may start to bud again when they see a review of a new translation of Homer or a biography of T. S. Eliot, or when “Tartuffe” or “The Seagull” in playing at a local theater.

College education is a proliferation of such possibilities: the beauty of mathematical discovery, the thrill of scientific understanding, the fascination of historical narrative, the mystery of theological speculation. We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students’ souls.

via Why Do I Teach? – NYTimes.com.

via Why Do I Teach? – NYTimes.com.

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