Beginner’s Mind

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