“It is a fact of nature that there are more born poets than born teachers. But the world’s work cannot depend on genius; it must make do with talent, that is to say, fair material properly trained.”
Painted on the concrete of the playground at my grade school are outlines of the United States, the continents and an oversized computer keyboard complete with space bar, “ALT” and “ESC.” I watched a group of fifth-graders, boys and girls, playing a variation of hopscotch among the keys and laughing uproariously. From a distance I could discern no pattern to their jumping and as I approached they giggled guiltily. None would explain the game until a boy said, “Watch this,” and leaped gracefully from “F” – now I had it figured out – to “U” to “C” to “K,” and bowed. I admired the quietly subversive sense of comedy -- swearing, in effect, like mimes – and couldn’t bring myself to admonish them. “Don’t do it when the little kids are around,” I warned rather weakly.
"In bearing, in manner of thinking and talking, a teacher should quite naturally appear to be a person with a mental life, a person who reads books and whose conversation with colleagues is not purely business shop; that is, not invariably methods and troubles, but substance as well."
Later, I told a teacher about my playground encounter and she asked, “Did they spell it right?”
[The passages quoted above are from Jacques Barzun’s 1991 essay “The Art of Making Teachers” (A Jacques Barzun Reader, 2002).]