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Philo on teachers

April 2009
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“It is the custom of teachers, when they explain some theory to their pupils,to instruct them to remember it and say it by themselves.”
Questions and Answeres on Genesis, Book iv,45.

Gen xxiv.19: Why does she say, “And for thy camels I will draw water untill they have drunk.”
“(Scripture) dwells at length on the benevolence of the teacher who wishes not only to hand over and entrust scientific knowledge (to the pupil), but to put it in order and make it stick to him, since she gives drink to his memory, of which the camels are symbols. For genuine teachers and instructors direct their teaching not to display but to the profit of their pupils, and compel them to repeat from memory what has been said by them, thus firmly impressing upon them what they have heard.”
Questions and answers on Genesis, Book iv,106.

Modern pedagogics might have missed something?


2 Comments

  1. so, teachers are to only underline “tradition”? they are not to teach critical thinking skills? i don’t believe that this is a good teacher!

  2. TorreyS says:

    I don’t see any contradiction here between tradition and critical thinking. To be able to think critically, you have to know the traditions, especially the great narrative about your self and your own context.Your traditions. That Philo was able to think critically even though often focusing on his traditions, is fully proved by his writings.

    But my point here was the focus on memorizing; pupils nowadays- especially in my context- are not used to memorize anything any more. And that is, in my opinion- a loss.

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