- I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist, and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. [John Steinbeck, “. . . like captured fireflies.”]
- Education leads to enlightenment. Enlightenment opens the way to empathy. Empathy foreshadows reform. [Derrick A. Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (Basic Books, 1992), Chapter 8, “Racism’s Secret Bonding”.
Education has long been a central ethical concern. It is critical to the welfare of the individual and the state. In developed and developing countries, people spend considerable time, energy and other resources on it.
I recall many incidents of the summer of 1887 that followed my soul's sudden awakening. I did nothing but explore with my hands and learn the name of every object that I touched; and the more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous and confident grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world. When the time of daisies and buttercups came Miss Sullivan took me by the hand across the fields, where men were preparing the earth for the seed, to the banks of the Tennessee River, and there, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As my knowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister's hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature, and made me feel that "birds and flowers and I were happy peers." [Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (1904), Chapter V.]
Best known for his contribution to education, John Dewey was an educator about many things.
- Robert B. Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy (Cornell University Press, 1991).
- Sidney Hook, John Dewey: An Intellectual Portrait (Prometheus Books, 1995).
- Alan Ryan, John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism (W.W. Norton and Company, 1995).
Other great educators:
- Geoffrey Langlands founded and ran the Langlands School and College in Pakistan’s Hindu Kush Mountains.
Imagine trying to tell our story without books . . .
- Andrew Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2010).
- Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800 (Verso, 2010).
- Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (University of Toronto Press, 1962).
- Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (University of Chicago Press, 1998).
- Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press As an Agent of Change (Cambridge University Press, 1979).
- David Finkelstein and Alistair McLeery, The Book History Reader (Routledge, 2001).
. . . or libraries.
- Stuary A.P. Murray, The Library: An Illustrated History (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009).
- Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004).
- Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (Yale University Press, 2001).
Of course, neither books nor libraries would have been necessary if the Internet had been a product of nature instead of a product of human invention. In stark contrast to the many hours I spent in The University of Michigan Law Library as a student in the mid-1970s, I have not opened a casebook in decades. All the information my colleagues and I need is available online, and what is more, we can search the cases at least ten times faster than when my career began. The same is true in virtually every discipline that relies on research from written materials. Scholarly works appear many times faster than they did a generation ago, because the research is at our fingertips.
- Daniel Cohen and Roy Rozenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving and Presenting the Past on the Web(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).
- Thomas J. Misa, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology & Culture from the Renaissance to the Present (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
- Robert J. Cavalier, The Impact of the Internet on Our Moral Lives (State University of New York Press, 2005).
James Madison "is deservedly remembered as 'the Father of the Constitution" . . . the principal . . . author of what would become our Bill of Rights and the prime organizer of the Jeffersonian Republican party". The "Father of Politics" "lived in his head, but his head was always concerned with making his cherished thoughts real."
- Richard Brookhiser, James Madison (Basic Books, 2011).
- Ralph Lewis Ketcham, James Madison: A Biography (American Political Biography Press, 2003).
- Garry Wills, James Madison (Times Books, 2002).
- The James Madison Papers (Library of Congress).
- Dorothy Wickenden, Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West (Scribner, 2017). “ . . . Wickenden has painstakingly recreated the story of how that earlier Dorothy and her friend Rosamond Underwood embarked on a brief but life-changing adventure, teaching the children of struggling homesteaders.”
Notable examples of ordinary teachers:
- Nicholson Baker, Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids (Blue Rider Press, 2016): “With irresistible effrontery, ‘Substitute’ dares its readers to ask, ‘Is all this tedium really necessary?’ only to have us turn and ask the same question on behalf of our kids. For that reason alone, there are few substitutes for ‘Substitute.’ Excepting those accounts that point to larger social injustices, Baker’s book may be the most revealing depiction of the contemporary American classroom that we have to date.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir), about Georges Lopez, a remarkable teacher at a small school in France; “the portrait of an artist, a man whose work combines discipline and inspiration and unfolds mysteriously and imperceptibly”
- Thunder Soul: about an unlikely high school jazz bandand its teacher-leader
Technical and Analytical Readings
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” [Elizabeth Green, see below.]
- Elizabeth Green, Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) (W.W. Norton & Company, 2014): “‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’”
- Garret Keizer, Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher (Metropolitan Books, 2014): “His beautiful book holds much insight into the joys and frustrations of teaching.”
- Salvador Dali, Archaelogical Reminiscence of Millet's Angelus (1935)
- Edvard Munch, History (1916)
- Berthe Morisot, La Lecture (Reading) (1888)
- Edgar Degas, Dance Class (1874)
- Alfred Sisley, The Lesson (1874)
- Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Giving that Lecture in the Orrey, in Which a Lamp Is Put in Place of the Sun
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, bwv 1009: (3) Courante
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, bwv 1010: (2) Allemande, (3) Courante, (5) Bourrée
Film and Stage
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Beethoven’s first two piano concerti and first two symphonies are strongly derivative of Mozart, whom Beethoven later surpassed.
- Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15 (performances by Argerich, Bernstein and Zimerman)
- Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op 19 (performances by Perahia, Zimerman and Kissin)
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 (performances conducted by Jarvi, Bernstein and Solti)
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 (performances conducted by Barenboim, Brüggen and Szell)
- Haydn, Symphony No. 55 in E-flat Major, Hob.I:55, "Der Schulmeister" (The Schoolmaster) (1774)
- Gubaidulina, 10 Preludes (Studies) for solo cello (1974)
- Busoni, 7 Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing, BV296 (1923)
- Beriot, 9 Studies for solo violin
- Schumann, Album pour la Jeunesse (Album fur die Jugend) (Album for the Young), Op. 68, is divided into a section for beginnings, and a section for more advanced students.
- Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020): “. . . what makes her novel sing is its universal themes: how a young woman tries to make sense of her world, and how she grows up.”
Learing by doing:
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
[John Keats, Sonnet XI. “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”]