Jewish World Review Oct. 25, 2010 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5771
Great Teachers We Have Known
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Close Reader,
It was wholly a pleasure to learn that something I wrote got you to thinking about a great teacher you once had. What I'd written was: "We can still remember the piercing, unblinking blue eyes of a professor of biology who could look right through you, and see every vacuum of knowledge you were so desperately trying to cover up in class."
That memory of mine got you to thinking about your own days in law school:
"Students were called on to recite the assigned cases and explain what point of law should be applied. The professor was a genius at selecting students who hadn't read the case. Slump in your chair? He noticed it. Sit behind the biggest guy in the class? He would come right back to your desk and ask. Bluff your way through by sitting upright and looking eager? It was almost a 100 percent certainty he would call on you. Law class soon became one I was always ready for, thanks to the professor with the piercing eyes."
My own imposing professor -- of biology -- was named
Dr. Warters turned out a good part of every entering class at the state's premier medical schools,
Dr. Warters had no politics you could tell, thank goodness, but she did have an iron Presbyterian will that would accept no excuses, evasions or equivocations. And the debate over using embryonic stem cells for research has been full of them. But with Dr. Warters, a fact was a fact. Life was life. You knew or you didn't know. She could tell. And you'd better know. Behind that soft
A widely recognized researcher in genetics, Dr. Warters spent her summers at national laboratories like those at
What fun she would have had in our time! There's now an endowed chair named for her at Centenary, and to this day her old students pronounce her name with a respectful aura around it.
More than the knowledge and skills she imparted with such unsparing clarity, it was the inner change
In our time, the most depressing phrase in what's now laughingly called higher education has to be "skill sets."
Here in my state, the
The university's administrators would do better to study its great teachers, and learn from them. Then they might understand why even those students who aren't planning to major in a respected professor's specialty would sign up for his -- or her -- courses. It's to be enriched, broadened and inspired by his -- or her -- intellect and spirit. That is, to be educated.
How blessed we both have been, Dear Close Reader, in our teachers.
Thanks for the memories,
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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