dotty LO30229

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 06/03/03

Replying to LO30216 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < > wrote:

>Dear At and LO,
>Teaching is a humbling human activity isn't it? It is a generational thing ;-)

Greetings dear Andrew,

How right you are. Here is a true story. A late professor at some
university used to hand out his full CV to students on his first lecture
of every course. He used that full lecture to tell the students what he
had accomplished. He succeeded in impressing them very much. He was a
proud person. In the subsequent lectures he addressed them like in an
international congress of peers. But near the end of the course only half
of them still attended his lectures. In the exams the majority of them
failed. Eventually he was asked to focus on his research career and stop

A teacher must observe his students closely so as to assume their level of
development. Even then, it is best for the teacher to assume even less
development than what he observes. The difficult part when teaching a
class of students is to decide which student's development should be
matched to -- the bright student, the average student or the dull student.
(I used "bright" and "dull" since i know no other way to express myself in

I have found that it is best to match to the average students while
keeping the bright students attentive with testing questions and the dull
students with frequent encouragements. But i have to admit that often i
got carried away when a bright student began to ask interesting questions.
It is only afterwards that i wanted to kick myself for neglecting the dull

I have found it difficult to teach both humbly and passionately. Somehow,
for me, these two qualities tended to drift apart.

>We made some art together, in a (white) field;-) effect ;-) They
>co-created a painting. I called it after a Margaret Wheatley 'ism,
>'Walking with Soft Eyes'.

My ideal was always to let the students co-create every lesson. By this i
mean that their responses (questions, remarks, etc.) determine the way in
which the lesson will develop rather my own preparation in advance.
However, this was not easy since they were used to remain passively in
most other classes. One strategy which worked well was to select the most
extrovert student and let him/her give life to the class until they have
become lively too.

Andrew, you quote Van Gogh who wrote among other things:
   "So it seems to me that illness, tuberculosis and cancers
    are celestial means of locomotion, just as steamboats
    and railways are terrestrial means."
It is especially true of African societies. They still have great respect
for an ill person or eventually the dead person. They will try to attend
the sickbed or later the funeral of a person at all costs. They will
easily spend half a month's pay to make a distant visit to the person
concerned. However, Western minded people think that it is a clever way
for them to be absent from work. This often gives rise to friction at

>...I also dedicate it to your friend, who is a
>complete stranger to me, At --

Thank you Andrew. What i will miss is his willingness to discuss any topic
and not to shy away from complex topics. He was a learner for life. I will
also miss his incredible love for nature. As you have quoted Shakespear:
   "All things must pass through nature to eternity." Hamlet
it certainly applies to my friend.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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