Books and teachers

‘The great moral I would press upon you is this, that in learning to write Latin, as in all learning, you must not trust to books, but only make use of them; not hang like a dead weight upon your teacher, but catch some of his life; handle what is given to you, not as a formula, but as a pattern to copy and as a capital to improve; throw your heart and mind into what you are about, and thus unite the separate advantages of being tutored and of being self-taught, – self-taught, yet without oddities, and tutorized, yet without conventionalities.’ (Idea of a university)

In this remark Newman contrasts the idiosyncratic learning styles of those who learn almost exclusively from books with the mechanical or rote learning of those who learn predominantly from teachers; and he recommends steering a middle path between them.

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