Monday, September 16, 2002

Venerable teachers
There is one thing that I simply cannot be is a venerable teacher. I can be a good teacher, perhaps (I'm not saying that I am, but it is theoretically possible for a young teacher to be a good one). But, to be a venerable teacher (and hence a great one), one needs to mull over his material for years. As James Schall says in the essay cited below:

There is a kind of "anti-wisdom" in academia today. The concern is with young professors, new things. And there is nothing more exhilarating than a young man or woman just out of graduate school, someone who has really learned something. I just read a doctoral thesis on Strauss from the University of Adelaide in Australia that was positively thrilling. But there are some things that require years of going over again and again. Plato died when he was 81.

I have read the CCC about four times now. I've read the four constitutions of Vatican II about 4 times. This does not qualify me to be an expert on them. I don't imagine that I will be truly insightful about them until after about 20 years of teaching them. They are SO rich!

The archetypal venerable teacher for me was Edward Cronin, of the Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame. He had mulled over the great books for decades and was so immersed in them that almost every word he said about them was a pearl of wisdom. One was especially in awe when he commented on the text of Ulysses, his specialty. He was inside the story. One could really feel his sorrow over Joyce's apostasy.

With grace and perserverence I hope to be a venerable teacher in a few decades.

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