Energy and Curiosity, the Wisdom of Robertson Davies

by johnmccreery

I am in one of those fey moods where I find myself rereading books that, after a long waiting, have spoken to me and demanded to be read again. The book now in question is Rebel Angels by the Canadian novelist Robertson Davies. No one to my mind does academic comedy better. One thing that makes his books worth rereading is the bits of wisdom that pop up here and there. I thought of Carl again as I read the following passage.

Energy and curiosity are the lifeblood of universities; the desire to find out to uncover, to did deeper, to puzzle out obscurities, is the spirit of the university, and it is a channelling of that unresting curiosity that holds mankind together. As for energy, only those who have never tried it for a week or two can suppose that the pursuit of knowledge does not demand a strength and determination, a resolve not to be beaten, that is a special kind of energy, and those who lack it or have it only in small store will never be scholars or teachers, because real teaching demands energy as well. To instruct calls for energy, and to remain almost silent, but watchful and helpful, while students instruct themselves, calls for even greater energy. To see someone fall (which will teach him not to fall again) when a word from you would keep him on his feet but ignorant of an important danger, is one of the tasks of the teacher that calls for special energy, because holding in is more demanding than crying out.

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