Monday, June 04, 2018

Strangely different and surprisingly better

In our Archives today I found a 1952 self-study which remarks on the distinctive experience of faculty at the New School. (They didn't capitalize "The" in those days, and, when speaking, seem to have put the emphasis on "School.") Its second sentence is ungainly, as "rough and tumble" as the classes it evokes, but worth following to the end:

[T]he teacher finds himself freed from the cumbersome restrictions he has elsewhere known, facing a group of mature men and women who are there because they want to be, because they are interested, have problems, face difficulties, need to understand better themselves and others. He finds them outspoken, often crude in their remarks, intruding into his abstractions the concrete tests of their own experience, disagreeing with him and with one another, sometimes without due restraint, taking the attention of the class away from him, but in a rough and tumble rarely experienced in an average college class, giving through shared thought, responding with sudden, eager enthusiasm to some discerning remark he has made, at length listening not in resigned boredom but in absorbed understanding to a lecture strangely different from the one he had prepared – and surprisingly better.

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