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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 6. April 24, 1952

The Teacher's Way

The Teacher's Way

It's about the way we teach that you chiefly complain, so I shall confine myself to that. As a teacher of philosophy. I take it as my duty not to inculcate my own beliefs into my students but to help them as best I may to think problems out for themselves and to reach their own conclusions the hard way. Of course I have opinions of my own about various philosophical issues—it would be odd if after thinking about them for several years I didn't, though I am not ashamed to admit that about many of them I haven't by an means made up my mind as yet—but as a teacher of philosophy I don't think it is my job to be a propagandist or a missionary. I believe, for example, that when I am lecturing on the views of any particular philosopher, be he St. Thomas or Karl Marx, my first task is to explain his arguments as sympathetically as I can before going on to criticise them; and in discussing a philosophical problem I think I ought to state both (or all) sides of the case as fairly as I can and leave it to my students to decide which has the better of the argument. (If you say this represents my ideals rather than my practice you may be only too right, for I am but mortal; but ideals are important.) Perverse as it may seem, I have far more intellectual respect for the person who has thought carefully through a problem and come to what I think is a wrong conclusion than for one who agrees with me but whose thinking seems to me slipshod and superficial. And there are even times—to such depths of depravity do I descend—when I think it is my duty as a teacher to argue against the position I am in fact inclined to adopt, when I am talking to someone who does not seem to me to appreciate the difficulties and objections to which it is subject,