For Those Who Work With Youth


Evelyn Waugh in A Little Learning made the disconcerting claim that the only reason to take a job teaching young boys was either dire financial straits or because you were homosexual. Cynical Waugh! However, I think he rightly has no illusions about the "sweetness of young people." We're all fallen; we're all nasty in some ways. Contra Rousseau or anyone who might foolishly think that working with young people is all stars and roses, here is one of my favorite quotations.

"Trust no philosopher who does not relish his existence and his thoughts. . . . The voices of culture are too often dull, blank, and soundless . . . at least one classic educator, Rabelais, was a roarer. And nobody could doubt the culture of John Jay Chapman in our time: . . . 'Is the education of the young the whole of life? I hate the young--I'm worn out with them. They absorb you and suck you dry and are vampires and selfish brutes at best. Give me some good old rum-soaked clubmen--who can't be improved and make no moral claims--and let me play checkers with them and look out of the club window and think about what I'll have for dinner.'" --Mark Van Doran, "Liberal Education."

Apologies to young people, of course! But young people can't be our hobby; we have to serve them because we love them, not because we like them.

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