The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?
Lincoln’s Letter to his Son’s Teacher He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader… Teach him for every enemy there is a friend, Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick… Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books… But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside. In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail than to cheat… Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong… Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon… Teach him to listen to all men… but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through. Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad… Teach him there is no shame in tears, Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness… Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right. Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient… let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind. This is a big order, but see what you can do… He is such a fine little fellow, my son!
There is no human reason why a child should not admire and emulate his teacher's ability to do sums, rather than the village bum's ability to whittle sticks and smoke cigarettes. The reason why the child does not is plain enough -- the bum has put himself on an equality with him and the teacher has not.
I swear... to hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture.
Why are we never quite at ease in the presence of a schoolmaster? Because we are conscious that he is not quite at his ease in ours. He is awkward, and out of place in the society of his equals. He comes like Gulliver from among his little people, and he cannot fit the stature of his understanding to yours.
The truth is that the average schoolmaster, on all the lower levels, is and always must be essentially and next door to an idiot, for how can one imagine an intelligent man engaging in so puerile an avocation?
The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.