By and large, though, the boys were taught by their mother….She had the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Redpath Library, a hundred volumes of Greek and Roman literature, Shakespeare, Dickens, Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Kipling, Twain. She taught her sons French, Latin, and a bit of Greek. She read to them from books in German, translating as she went along. They read the Iliad and the Odyssey.
—John McPhee, Annals of the Former World (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), p. 337, on the education of geologist John David Love (1913-2002) and his brother Allan on the family ranch in Wyoming.
Margolis would ask each student to take a special assignment, such as a particular version or commentary and be responsible for its evidence. He told me on my first day in class to handle the Syriac version. ‘But I don’t know Syriac,’ I protested. He looked at me sternly and growled, ‘Where do you think you are? In a kindergarten? Go home and learn Syriac.’
Cyrus Gordon, quoted in Leonard Greenspoon, Max Leopold Margolis: A Scholar’s Scholar (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), p. 35.
In older education the teacher was measured by what he or she could do with a bright girl or boy… For the first time in the history of education teaching came to be measured, not by what could be done with the best, but by what could be done with the worst.
Once, I remember, long before my book was written, when I was listening to some young American educators who were all agog over this-or-that new wrinkle in curricular gadgetry, I said, perhaps with some impatience, that the Ratio Studiorum of Acquaviva had been doing very well by itself for a little matter of three hundred years or so, and if any one had ever suggested any valid essential improvements on it, or could do so now, he was just the man I should like to see. I got no takers. It turned out that these educators had not heard of the Ratio Studiorum, and I suspect they were not quite sure whether Acquaviva was the hero of Rossini’s opera or the name of a Pullman car.
Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945), Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1964), p. 88.
I think I learned quite early that the judgments of my teachers were probably a report of their ignorance. In truth, my education was a systematic misleading. Ruskin was dismissed as a dull, preacherly old fart who wrote purple prose. In a decent society the teacher who led me to believe this would be tried, found guilty, and hanged by the thumbs while being pelted with old eggs and cabbage stalks
Guy Davenport’s essay “On Reading” in The Hunter Gracchus and Other Papers on Literature and Art (Washington: Counterpoint, 1997), pp. 19-31.