Boring Teachers

James Freeman Clarke, Autobiography

“I have sometimes wondered that our teachers then, and so many teachers since, could never interest young people in study. There is one element in the human soul which is common to all mankind, — curiosity. Why was this motive never appealed to? No attempt was made to interest us in our studies. We were expected to wade through Homer as though the Iliad were a bog, and it was our duty to get along at such a rate per diem. Nothing was said of the glory and grandeur, the tenderness and charm of this immortal epic. The melody of the hexameters was never suggested to us. Dr. Popkin, our Greek professor, would look over his spectacles at us, and, with pencil in hand, mark our recitation as good or bad, but never a word to help us over a difficulty, or to explain anything obscure, still less to excite our enthusiasm for the greatest poem of antiquity. But this was not peculiar to Dr. Popkin, It was the universal custom, with but one exception.”

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