The Respect Due to Teachers

Battista Guarino, de ordine docendi et studendi IV

“They should show a sort of paternal respect when honoring their teacher; for, if they disrespect the teacher, it necessarily follows that they will disrespect the teaching as well. It should not be thought that the ancients acted capriciously when they desired that the teacher should be treated like a respected parent; this was done so that the teacher could instruct the pupils with greater diligence and benevolence, and the students would reverently believe that they must observe the teacher’s precepts as though they flowed from the font of parental affection. Therefore, let them imitate the example of Alexander the Great in this matter. He used to claim that he owed no less to Aristotle than to his own father, because though his father had given him only life, but Aristotle had given him the secret of living well.

The mind which is so trained will promise such great hope that it will not only exceed the loftiest expectation, but even the loftiest wishes. For, as Sallust says, ‘wherever you aim your mind, there it excels.’ It is, however, of the utmost importance that students not be handed over to be educated by uncultured and unlettered teachers, from whom they would prove that saying of Cicero that they came back ‘stupider by half’ than they had gone. This is not to mention the time which they lose. It would be just as with the famous music teacher Timotheus – the teacher would have to undertake a double labor. The first is making them forget all which they had learned – a thing which is very difficult, according to Horace:

                ‘Once you fill a jug of wine

                It holds the scent for quite some time.’

The second labor consists of elevating them to better precepts, which happens all the slower because they must waste so much time and labor in erasing all of the previous learning.”

Deinde in praeceptore colendo paternam sibi constituant sanctitatem; nam si eum contempserint, eius quoque praeceptionem contemnant necesse est. Neque enim existimandum est maiores illos temere praeceptorem sancti voluisse parentis esse loco; sed ut ille maiore cum diligentia benevolentiaque eos instrueret, ipsi autem venerabundi eius dicta velut a paterna quadam affectione manantia observanda esse crederent. Quocirca ea in re Alexandri magni exemplum imitabuntur, qui non minus se Aristoteli praeceptori quam Philippo patri debere praedicabat, propterea quod ab hoc esse tantum, ab illo et bene esse accepisset. Qui vero animus ita institutus fuerit, optimam de se spem pollicebitur, ut omnium non modo exspectationem, sed etiam vota sit superaturus. Nam, ut ait Crispus, ‘ubi intenderis ingenium valet.’ In primis autem id cavendum erit ne rudibus et indoctis ab initio praeceptoribus tradantur erudiendi, a quibus illud Ciceronis consequantur, ut ‘dimidio stultiores’ redeant quam accesserint. Ut enim tempus taceam quod amittunt: efficitur profecto illud Timothei musici, ut postea duplex suscipiendus sit labor; alter quo ea quae didicerunt oblivioni tradant – quod sane difficilimum est iuxta Flacci sententiam,

Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem

Testa diu

Alter, ut ad meliores praeceptiones evehantur, quod etiam eo tardius fit, quo in prioribus illis obliterandisque necesse est operam tempusque consumere.

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