Newman distinguished between occasional lectures which ‘excite or keep up an interest and reverence’ for the University and those of an academic bent which affected their purpose by ‘the slow, silent, penetrating, overpowering effects of patience, steadiness, routine and perseverance’.

‘The ordinary object of lectures is to teach’, not ‘to amuse, to astonish, and to attract, and thus to have an effect upon public opinion. […]Lectures are, properly speaking, not exhibitions or exercises of art, but matters of business; they profess to impart something definite to those who attend them, and those who attend them profess on their part to receive what the lecturer has to offer. It is a case of contract:—“I will speak, if you will listen”—“I will come here to learn, if you have any thing worth teaching me.” In an oratorical display, all the effort is on one side; in a lecture, it is shared between two parties, who co-operate towards a common end.’ (Idea of a university)

Newman took the view that learning from lectures was an art and that students had to be shown how to profit from them and not merely attend passively. This was one of the main tasks of the academic tutor.

See also The professorial system

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