Jacques Barzun: Extended Quotes from “Begin Here”

Wow! A huge page full of excerpts from Barzun! If you’ve not yet discovered him, please do. Such clear thinking and writing is rare. Everything he ever wrote is worthwhile, I’m sure.


Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning
Jacques Barzun -1991
ISBN 0-226-03846-7
Dewey # 371.102 B296

Forget EDUCATION. Education is a result, a slow growth, and hard to judge. Let us talk rather about Teaching and Learning, a joint activity that can be provided for, though as a nation we have lost the knack of it. The blame falls on the public schools, of course, but they deserve only half the blame. The other half belongs to the people at large, us, — our attitudes, our choices, our thought-cliches.

Take one familiar fact: everybody keeps calling for Excellence — excellence not just in schooling, throughout society. But as soon as somebody or something stands out as Excellent, the other shout goes up: “Elitism!” And whatever produced that thing, whoever praises that result, is promptly put down. “Standing out” is undemocratic.

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