Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Institutions /
@ K. 2006 08 16
Visitors here may already know that I have far more than one or two things to say about teaching, about teachers … about schools, about education. I hope the newcomer can readily see that I intend all those and other such words to be regarded as “in quotation marks.” Eventually I intend to gather such thoughts here, but today I just start with a few blunt statements.
Socrates was a teacher. Most would agree, no? Jesus was a teacher: few would disagree. (If you do, quick, say so.) Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, David Attenborough … these are teachers. Sensei, Rab’ … there’s more than one class they can be grouped with.
Those teachers just named got various kinds of pay. Asimov was well paid for his fiction, he was also paid for his science and other specialties’ “teachings”. Dr. Carl was on salary from Cornell, and also sold his writing: probably in more than one way, royalties included here and there I’m sure. Socrates lived in a culture where his natal status would have afforded him some sort of living. Still, by his old age, he was on the poor side. But I bet he’d collected a lot of free meals in his life: sort of the way country doctors used to get paid. I bet Jesus got fed at more than one wedding feast.
What other kinds of pay do teachers get? Dr. Carl got interrupted by William F. Buckley when he tried to warn us about possibilities of nuclear winter. Colleagues of his who might have tried to give us the same warning never got on TV in the first place, so they couldn’t be publicly interrupted at that level. Socrates got condemned to death. Jesus got cheered one minute, threatened the next, knocked about, arrested … then flayed, finally crucified.
Those are some of the wages of teachers.
Don’t, please, not for one second, conflate or confuse your state-certified Miss Tilly from PS 88 with teachers like Moses, St. Augustine, St Aquinas … Abelard, Occam … Neither should Marshall McLuhan being given a high-paying chair at Fordham fail to be distinguished from his writings selling like hot cakes. (It’s nice that he got paid; few understood the writings very well.)
Abelard got his balls cut off: and that was only part of his wages.
One lesson the public has learned from all its teachers — from Job to Darwin to Van Gogh — is that the teachers, the geniuses, the saviors … are inexhaustible, there’s an infinite supply: god will send more sacrificial scapegoats, and more, forever, because he just loves the public so. The public never has to learn anything.
So far, the lesson seems to be true: we’re still here! But I wouldn’t trust it much longer.
I think the final joke will be on us.