Why Teach Essays

He knows the studies showing that students spend less time than ever on their classwork, and he writes of an implicit pact between undergraduates and professors in which teachers give high grades and thin assignments, and students reward them with positive evaluations. After all, given all the other amenities available through the university, the idea that “the courses you take should be the primary objective of going to college is tacitly considered absurd.”

After describing this unhappy shift, Mr. Edmundson’s remaining essays are devoted to “fellow students” and “fellow teachers.” He’s hard on both groups, but underneath the curmudgeonly rhetoric he is desperate to remind them of why real learning and teaching aren’t so much luxuries as necessities.

Mr. Edmundson strives to read and teach the authors who inspire him with what he calls “humane sensitivity.” “The battle is to make such writers one’s own, to winnow them out and to find their essential truths,” he says. He went to college to see if there were possibilities beyond what others had defined as his limits. You sense that he still goes to the classroom each semester seeking new possibilities — for his students and for himself.

Much of “Why Teach?” concerns the impediments to this search. Under the guise of practicality, universities and their “customers” now stress that education should provide a return on investment. They speak of excellence and innovation, and what they really mean is money and notoriety. They talk of a well-rounded learning experience, and what they really mean is checking off boxes denoting that you’ve taken required courses that weren’t too challenging. Mr. Edmundson contends that the “corporate university” has abdicated its mission to confront our prejudices and conventions while inspiring our passions and talents.

He fervently advocates for the transformative power of a true education because he experienced it firsthand. In high school, he cared about football and rock ’n’ roll more than about literature until he was stirred by great teaching and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” “I think that the highest objective for someone trying to provide a literary education to students is to make such moments of transformation possible,” he writes.

This “highest objective” is also extraordinarily fulfilling. “Teachers who have been moved by great works have been moved to pass the gift on,” he says, with a nod to Wordsworth and Coleridge — and to all professors who introduce students to books that have changed their own lives. Art inspires us; teaching changes us.

Mr. Edmundson worries that too many professors have lost the courage of their own passions, depriving their students of the fire of inspiration. Why teach? Because great professors can “crack the shell of convention,” shining a light on a life’s different prospects. They never aim at conversion, only at what Emerson called “aversion” — bucking conformity so as to discover possibility.

Despite the forces arrayed against them, in the next few weeks, students across the country will find their way to professors like Mr. Edmundson, teachers eager to continue the fight for real education. I wouldn’t bet against them.

Continue reading the main story


In Defense of a Real Education

By Mark Edmundson

222 pages. Bloomsbury. $24.

Why I Want to be a Teacher Essay

1161 Words5 Pages

Why I Want to be a Teacher

School is a major part of our young lives. It is where we spend the majority of our time as youngsters. Children begin to develop relationships with people who have not been apart of their infancy. For someone who does not enjoy school, this could put a damper on their relationships with others as well as their learning achievements in life. This is why I want to become a teacher. I want to develop a learning atmosphere where children feel joy and security.

I believe that enjoying and feeling that one belongs is an important part of education. Yes, I used the word that makes some people shiver when heard, education. Education is often viewed as an institution where children are…show more content…

Children are with teachers the majority of the day. Children are influenced by what they see and why they are around. Not only are they teaching them academics, but also manners, sportsmanship, and self worth. These are important factors that children need in everyday life. This is why a teacher’s job is so important. Most would say that teaching would be a hard job. But, I feel that it will be easy if you win your students over. I know that the rewards in the end will out weigh the cost. Watching a student master a new task is the reward I am after.

I have always enjoyed school. I enjoy learning new topics as well as helping others understand those topics. I want to teach children to take an interest in school even if it is in only one subject area. By getting them interested I hope to give them the reason they need to get up every morning and put an effort into what they do. The more a student puts into school, the more they will get out of it.

I have always wanted to be a parent. I am a newly wed and we plan to have children in the near future. I feel that I will be a great parent because I helped raise my two sisters so I have background with helping children and meeting their needs. As a future educator, I must convince students that I care. I plan to open new doors and introduce ideas that spark interest in their souls.

In high school I was forced to pick a major my ninth grade

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