The Corrosive Effect of Dead Teaching
To teach seriously is to lay hands on what is most vital in a human being. It is to seek access to the quick and innermost of a child’s or an adult’s integrity. A Master invades, he breaks open, he can lay waste in order to cleanse and rebuild.
Poor teaching, pedagogic routine, a style of instruction which is, unconsciously or not, cynical in its mere utilitarian aims, are ruinous. They tear up hope by its roots. Bad teaching is, almost literally, murderous and metaphorically, a sin. It diminishes the student, it reduces to gray inanity the subject being presented. It drips into the child’s or the adult’s sensibility that most corrosive of acids, boredom, the marsh gas of ennui.
Millions have had mathematics, poetry, logical thinking killed for them by dead teaching, by the perhaps subconsciously vengeful mediocrity of frustrated pedagogues.
- George Steiner, Lessons of the Masters, 18.