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Статья на тему "THE IDEAL TEACHER"

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Palmer shows a difference between teaching as a trade

and a profession. Teaching as a trade is poor and

disappointing business. A trade aims primarily at personal

gains; a profession at the exercise of powers beneficial

mankind. When teaching is entered as a profession, as a

serious and difficult fine art, there are few employments

more satisfying. All over the country thousands of men and

women are following it with a passionate devotion which

takes little account of the income received. Once engaged,

they give their best, their personal interest themselves.

Their heart is in the work, and for this no equivalent is

Possible, the real payment is the work itself.

The idea, sometimes advanced, that the professions

might be ennobled by paying them profoundly, is fantastic.

Their great attraction is their removal from sordid aims.

More money should certainly be spent on several of them.

Their members should be better protected against want,

anxiety, neglect, and bad conditions of labour. To do his best

work one needs not merely to live, but to live well.

Professional men are not so silly as to despise money; but

after all, it is interest in their work, and not the thought of

salary, which predominantly holds them.

In this paper G.H.Palmer addresses those only who are

drawn to teaching by the love of it, who regard it as the most

vital of the Fine Arts, who intend to give their lives to

mastering its subtleties and who are ready to meet some

hardships and to put up with moderate fare if they may win

its rich opportunities.

What special qualifications will the work require? The

question asked such broadly admits no precise answer, for

in reality there is no human excellence which is not useful

for us teachers.

After teaching 39 years in Harvard College, Palmer has

come to believe that there are four characteristics which

every teacher must possess. They appear fundamental.

  1. A teacher must have an aptitude for vicariousness,

  2. an already accumulated wealth;

  3. an ability to invigorate life through knowledge;

  4. a readiness to be forgotten.

Having these, any teacher is secure. Lacking them, lacking

even one, he is liable to serious failure.

The teacher’s art takes its rise in an aptitude for vicariousness.

The teacher’s task is not primarily the acquisition of

knowledge, but the importation of it,- an entirely different

matter. We have passed far on and know all about our

subject. For us it wears an altogether different look from

that which it has for beginners. It is their perplexities which

we must reproduce and-as if a rose should shut and be a bud

again-we must reassume in our developed and accustomed

souls something of the innocence of childhood. Such is the

exquisite business of the teacher to carry himself back with

all his wealth of knowledge and understand how his subject

should appear to the meager mind of one glancing at it for

the first time.

In the case when a class fails, it is usually the teacher’s

fault. It is necessary to work in that double-ended fashion

which alone can bring success; in short, to put yourself in the

weak one’s place and to bear his burden.

It is in this chief business of the artistic teacher to labour

imaginatively himself in order to diminish the labours of his

slender pupil, that most of our failures occur. Instead of

lamenting the imperviousness of our pupils, we had better

asked ourselves more frequently whether we have neatly

adjusted our teachings to the conditions of their minds.

In this profession any one who will be great must be a nimble

servant, his head full of others’ needs.

There are persons who, with all good will, can never be

teachers. They are not made in that way. Their business

is to pry into knowledge, to engage in action, to make

money, or to pursue whatever other aim their powers

dictate; but they do not readily think in terms of the other

person. They should not, then, be teachers. Till altruistic

vicariousness has become our second nature, we will not

deeply influence anybody.

Our ideal teacher will need second qualification of

an already accumulated wealth. These hungry pupils are

drawing all their nourishment from us, and have we got it

to give? They will be poor, if we are poor; rich if we are

wealthy. We are their source of supply. Supplying a

multitude, we need wealth sufficient for a multitude.

We should then be clutching at knowledge on every side.

Nothing must escape us.

The teacher must have a broad background of knowledge,

have to go over his entire subject. We cannot teach right up

to the edge of our knowledge without a fear of falling off.

The pupils discover this fear and our words are ineffective.

They feel the influence of what we do not say. One cannot

precisely explain it; but when you move freely across your

subject as if it matters little on what part of it you rest, they

get a sense of assured power which is compulsive and

fructifying. Even, then, to teach a small thing well we must

be large.

But the ideal teacher will accumulate wealth not merely

for his pupils’ sake, but for his own. To be a good teacher

one must be a good personality. For developing personal

power it is well, therefore, for each teacher to cultivate

interests unconnected with his official work.

We need not merely wealth, but already accumulated

wealth. At the moment when wealth is wanted it cannot be

acquired. It should be gathered and stored before the

occasion arose.

A teacher needs the power to invigorate life through


We do not always notice how knowledge naturally buffets.

It is offensive stuff and makes young minds rebel. And well it

may ; for when we learn anything, we are obliged to break

up the world, inspect it piece by piece and let our minds seize

it bit by bit. The consolidating character of a teacher exhibits

the gains which come from study. We do not need to point

them out. The kindling of interest is the great function of the

teacher. If teaching leaves pupils inactive, docile, there is

something wrong with it.

Education should unfold us and truth together and to

enable it to do so the learner must never be allowed to sink

into a mere recipient. He should be called on to think, to

observe, to form his own judgments even at the risk of error

and crudity. The mere contemplation of truth is always a

deadening affair. Until the mind reacts for itself on what it

receives, its education is hardly begun. The teacher who

leads it to react may be truly called «productive», productive

of human beings.

A teacher must have a readiness to be forgotten. And what

is harder? Many a man is ready to be generous, if by it he can

win praise. If praise and recognition dear to the teacher, he

may as well stop work. Dear to him perhaps they may be,

as a human being; but as a teacher , he is called on to rise

above ordinary human conditions. A teacher does not live for

himself but for his pupils and for the truth which he imparts.

His aim is to be a colourless medium through which that truth

may shine on opening minds. He must keep himself entirely

out of the way, fixing young attention on the proffered

knowledge and not on anything so small as the one who

brings it. Let us display our subjects as lucidly as possible,

allow our pupils considerable license in apprehension, and

be content ourselves to escape observation. But the results of

what we do often awake deep affection. Few in the

community receive love more abundantly than we.

Wherever we go, we meet a smiling face. To us, the blind

affection of the pupils cling as to few beside their parents.

It is better to be loved than to be understood.

One will begin to suspect that it is impossible to be a good

teacher. Certainly it is. Each of the four qualifications I have

named is endless .Each year we creep a little nearer our goal,

only to find that a finished teacher is a contradiction in terms.

Our reach will forever exceed our grasp.

Our beautiful art (teaching), being so largely personal, will

at last be seen to connect itself with nearly all other

employments . Every mother is a teacher. Every minister. The

lawyer teaches the jury, the doctor his patient. The clever

salesman might almost be said to use teaching in dealing with

his customer, and all of us to be teachers of one another in

daily intercourse. As teaching is the most universal of the

professions, those are fortunate who are able to devote their

lives to its enriching study.


He who can explain himself may command what he wants. He who cannot is left to the poverty of individual resource; for men do what we desire only when persuaded. The persuasive and explanatory tongue is, therefore, one of the chief levers of life.

Between ourselves and our language there accordingly springs up an association peculiarly close. We are as sensitive to criticism of our speech as of your manners. The graceful speaker is a universal object of envy.

Undoubtedly, there are natural aptitudes for it as for farming, seamanship, or being a good husband. But nowhere is strait work more effective. Persistence, care, observation, ingenuity – traits which in every other occupation tend toward excellency, - tend toward here with special security.

Obviously, good English is exact English. Our words should fit our thoughts like a glove and be neither too wide nor too tight. It is important to anybody who would cultivate himself in English to make strenuous and systematic efforts to enlarge his vocabulary. We fall into the way of thinking that the wealthy words are for others and they do not belong to us. We are like those who have received a vast inheritance, but who persist in the inconveniences of hard beds, scanty food, rude clothing, who never travel, and who limit their purchases to the bleak necessities of life. Ask such people why they endure niggardly living while wealth in plenty is lying in the bank, and they can answer that they have never learned how to spend .But this is worth learning. Milton used 8 thousand words, Shakespeare 15 thousand. We have all the subjects to talk about that these early speakers had, and in addition science and politics and all the complicated living of the modern world. Why then do we hesitate to swell our words to meet our needs? There is no reason. We are simply lazy, too lazy to make ourselves comfortable. We let our vocabularies be limited and get along without the refinement of human intercourse, without refinement in our own thoughts; for thoughts are almost as dependent on words as words on thoughts.

For example, all exasperations we lump together as «aggravating» not considering whether they may not rather be displeasing, annoying, offensive, disgusting, irritating, or even maddening. Like a bad cook, we seize the frying-pen whenever we need to fry, to broil, roast or stew, and then we wonder why all our dishes taste alike while in the next house the food is appetizing.

Enlarge the vocabulary. Let any one who wants to see himself grow, resolve to adopt two new words each week. It will not be long before the endless and enchanting variety of the world will begin to reflect itself in his speech, and in his mind as well.

I know that when we use the word for the first time, we are startled. A word used three times slips off the tongue with entire naturalness. Then it is ours forever and with it some phase of life which had been lacking before. For each word presents its own point of view, discloses a special aspect of things, reports some little importance not otherwise conveyed, and so contributes its small emancipation to our tied-up minds and tongues.

But in urging the additing of new words to our present poverty-stricken stock we should not seek out strange, technical expressions which do not appear in ordinary conversation. We should contribute to each of the little companies with which our life is bound up a gently enlarging influence which may save from routine and dreary usualness. The small shocks of our increasing vocabulary will in all probability be as helpful to our friends as to ourselves.

When speaking, or writing, remember the other person. We are so full of ourselves that we do not remember the other person.

The next rule is «Lean upon the subject».


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