June 17, 2003
Teaching once and teaching hard

I'm impressed by this. It's one of my favourite people at the moment, Theodore Dalrymple, proving that teaching doesn't have to go on and on, build up a "relationship" etc, to have an effect. Often it can consist of saying one true and forcefully expressed thing, and moving on.

“You know, you done me a lot of good when I was in jail,” he said. “I came to you for help. You said I didn’t need no medicine, I just needed to decide not to come back. You said there was nothing wrong with me. I thought you was very hard, but you was right. I’ve kept out of trouble for four years ever since. You spoke straight to me.”

This bloke recognised Dalrymple when they met again, but Dalrymple didn't recognise him. And that's my point.

Dalrymple is obsessed with being right, and he mostly is, in my opinion. When he is right, and someone tells him he's right, he's pleased and he doesn't mind who knows it. I much prefer proud men with something to be proud about, than men who have nothing to be proud about and aren't. He is, in short, something of a show-off. He wades through the miseries of the underclass, telling it (and them) like it is, proud of being right, showing-off.

Show-offs can make excellent teachers.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:45 PM
Category: How to teach
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