Saturday, April 18, 2020


Language, Literature, Life

A. Sidgwick (1840-1920), On Stimulus (1883; rpt. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1908), p. 19:
The beginnings of language are very dull—the moraine of the mountain of classics, as someone well called them.
Id., p. 22:
The classics may be treated as language, as literature, or as part of the ancient life. The language as such appeals to few, if indeed it does appeal to few. The literature appeals to more, but still few, as British human nature goes. The life appeals to many.
Id., p. 25:
Accidence must be learnt if the boys are to learn the languages systematically at all. The learning must always be a drudgery; it must always seem to the learner (especially in Greek) to be a mass of arbitrary irregularities. The mastering of these is not merely a burden: it is even in itself depraving to the mind, initiating it early into a disbelief in law and order.
Id., p. 27:
There are many boys who can thoroughly appreciate a Greek play who never for the life of them could discriminate the various uses of the optative. Hundreds of boys can fairly understand and thoroughly enjoy Homer, for ten who can parse him without fault. I am not recommending slip-shod work. I am recommending the observance of a due proportion in the different departments of language teaching. If the boys parsed every word in ten lines and then read 40 lines, swiftly, and even inaccurately, they would have a far more stimulating and instructive lesson than if they parsed twenty lines thoroughly: and it would be done in less time. They would learn more Greek, and more of other things too.
Id., p. 41:
And one word more I would fain say, if I might without presumption, a word of earnest encouragement to those who mean to make teaching their profession. It is a work, you will be truly told, of hard and constant labour, and much drudgery. But the interest and the delight of it are such as far outweigh the labour. The mere daily life among the young is to the true teacher a constant happiness. And if one have any fitness for the work, and give his heart to it, there is no work so richly rewarded. The gratitude of the young to those who have done their best for them is more fervent and more durable than any other. To any teacher who is near to knowing his own faults and shortcomings, such gratitude must always seem far and away beyond his deserts. It is filled full, and pressed down, and running over. And it lasts to the end of life.
Hat tip: Joel Eidsath.

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