Beginner’s Mind

Monday, 31 May 2010

The inexperienced teacher, fearing his own ignorance, is afraid to admit it. Perhaps that courage only comes when one knows to what extent ignorance is almost universal. Attempts to camouflage it are simply a waste, in the long run, of time.

If the teacher is slow of wit, he may well be terrified by students whose minds move more quickly than his own, but he would be better advised to use the lively pupil for scout work, to exploit the quicker eye or subtler ear as look-​out or listening post.


There is no man who knows so much about, let us say, a passage between lines 100 to 200 of the sixth book of the Odyssey that he can’t learn something by re-​reading it WITH his students, not merely TO his students. If he knows Guido’s Donna Mi Prega as well as I now know it, meaning microscopically, he can still get new light by some cross-​reference, by some relation between the thing he has examined and re-​examined, and some other fine work, similar or dissimilar.

I believe the ideal teacher would approach any masterpiece that he was presenting to his class almost as if he had never seen it before.

Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading