Tutor at Oriel

Newman had the knack of breathing life into tutorials. From the testimony of his pupils we know that he challenged each of them to think for himself, to understand what he was reading, and to articulate his ideas; to compare and contrast, to challenge and contradict, to reduce an argument to its simplest form, to test it against historical examples, to recast it in his own words or in a different style, and to make comparisons with the present day.

The ideal that Newman aspired to as a lecturer appears in a novel he wrote two decades after scribbling these lecture notes. There he describes a ‘capital tutor’ at Oxford who ‘knew his subject so thoroughly’ that some of his lectures were ‘a masterly, minute running commentary on the text, quite exhausting it’. Nevertheless, the tutor ‘never loaded his lectures; everything he said had a meaning and was wanted’. (Loss and gain)

‘Each tutor knows all his pupils personally, with more or less intimacy according to the dispositions of each party, &c.; but still, in many cases, with an intimacy bordering on friendship. The tutor is often the means of forming his pupils’ minds, of setting up a standard of thought and judgement in his society, and that, of course, in accordance with, or rather based upon, the doctrines of the church.’ (British Magazine, 1834)

At one and the same time tutors needed to be kindly to their charges and understanding, while remaining firm, demanding and unyielding.

‘Beware of repenting indeed of idleness in the evening, but waking next morning thoughtless and careless about it’, Newman wrote to one of his tutees in 1827.

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