William Lyon Phelps: The Excitement of Teaching (1931)


Dieses Buch will ich am Ende meiner Laufbahn als Lehrer auch geschrieben haben!

I. Literature as a revelation of life

„It‘s a curious thing that we call novels „works of fiction“ when they are works of eternal truth.“ (S. 15)

„In reading the Russian novels of the three masters, Turgenev, Tolstoi, and Dostoevski, we find there is in reality no such thing as a separate „Russian Soul“. There are only human souls in Russia.“ (S. 17)

„Everything seems to have been said; all we can hope to do is to express old truths and old ideas in a fresh way.“ (S. 20)

„One of the chief reasons for success in life is the ability to maintain a daily interest in one’s work, to have a chronicenthusiasm; to regard each day as important.“ (S. 21)

II. Five pillars of education

„It is quite true that no teacher can force a pupil to master a given subject; that no teacher can force a pupil to do original thinking. But any teacher can force any pupil, on peril of dismissal, to attend recitations and lectures at assigned hours; to hand in written work at an assigned moment; in other words, to keep his engagements.“ (S. 32)

„Even the most ambitious young men and women feel some degree of responsibility to the community and to the world; they hope not only to be successful, they hope to be useful.“ (S. 38)

V. Noble Rage repressed by penury

„Teachers must receive enough salary to be able to devote their chief energy to teaching. „Where your treasure ist, there will your heart be also.“ But if there is no treasure there will be no heart.“ (S. 64)

„The average teacher enjoys teaching and enjoys learning. In the immortal words of Chaucer describing the Oxford scholar „And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.“ “ (S. 65f)

„[…] teaching is wildly exciting, adventurous, romantic, with no two days alike. The successful teacher loves what he teaches and whom he teaches.“ (S. 67)

„Teaching is an art, not a science; it is one of the greatest of all the arts.“ (S. 67)

„And right here is one reason for the happiness and value of teaching. [The teacher] MUST give himself to the matter in hand. The grocer’s clerk and the bank clerk, anyone engaged in routine, mechanical, or manual labour, can do his work while still thinking of his personal griefs and worries; but the teacher cannot. He cannot teach while thinking of anything else. This is fortunate.“ (S. 68f)

„Speaking only for myself, I will say honestly that with me teaching is more than an art or an occupation. It is a passion. I love to teach as a painter loves to paint, as a singer loves to sing, as a poet loves to write. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I think with an ardent delight of my first group of students.“ (S. 69)

VI. Strange optimism of the policemen

„There is a good deal of drudgery in teaching, though not more than in other professions or occupations; and the chief drudgery is reading examination papers.“ (S. 75)

VII. The most thrilling of professions

Browning: „It’s an awkward thing to play with souls.“ (S. 79)

  • Lehren ist eine sehr „intime“ Tätigkeit. Es kann die Seelen der Schüler berühren.
  • Die Schüler sind in erster Linie nicht Schüler oder gar Maschinen, sondern Menschen.

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