What is a good student or a good teacher

A good teacher is someone who can remember WHAT it was like to NOT know the subject; someone who understands that there is no such thing as a foolish question (for if it is a question in the STUDENT’S mind then it is VALID) but only stupid ANSWERS. A judo master has internalized various complex moves but a TEACHER of martial arts may break those mature routines into simpler motions and steps that a beginner can master. So it is like Wittgenstein said in his Tractatus that we use a ladder type construct to ascend perhaps awkwardly to a certain plateau but then once we reach that plateau we push away the ladder because it is no longer necessary. Rumi said “Do not seek water, SEEK THIRST, for without thirst the water is of no value.”

Dodd Hall Motto (see photo)
“The half of knowledge is to know
where to find knowledge” (and what to look for) http://www.fsu.edu/~legacy/ I feel that rote memory is not as essential in this age of Internet and search engines. In the 1950s we were led to believe that it was good to memorize… yet what we do not use every day we soon forget.

I definitely “loved” certain tutors and teachers deeply (in the Platonic sense of course). I had a framed photo of Gisela Berns on my desk and an assistant dean looked at it and scowled during a room inspection. Gisela once said that she would prefer to be in Limbo strolling with those philosophers discussing deep matters than to be in heaven praising with the angels. I felt the same way then and now. In poet Wallace Stevens collected letters he mentions a certain published poet (still living at the time of publication so the name was X) and Wallace Stevens said that this poet “does not write as though he MUST.” Some of us do what we do out of a deep need or compulsion even if we are in poverty or must deny ourselves material things to “follow our bliss.”

In 1967 when I was a Freshman at SJCA, Dean Keefer gave a lecture/address on “Life Subordinated to Study” … I made a small poster on that theme and hung it on my door in East Pinkney… not everyone agreed with my attitude. After the first 3 weeks, I was walking on campus and a group of Freshmen men came up and questioned me… they were trying to figure out who was boinking whom and they could not figure me out… I explained that I just wanted to study all the time. Actually, I was terrified that I would fail. I did not watch TV or “date” or do anything except study during my entire Freshman year. I never even went to a movie. I never even went to Friday night movies at FSK (not once in 4 years). Everyone is different. I have always had learning disabilities. SJC was great for me because there were no written exams. I enjoyed discussions and writing. Once I graduated SJC, life was kind of empty simply in the sense that there were few opportunities to have the sorts of discussions/inquires that I enjoyed. Once the Internet became available to me in 1998, I filled that void with IRC chat, Yahoo chat, message boards, blogs, Myspace and now Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: