The Good Teacher
and The Good Pupil
At one time it was thought that the child was a plastic material that could be moulded mechanically according to the designs of the parents or the educator. This gave rise to teacher-oriented education. This situation, however, is rapidly changing. With the advent of progressive movements, such as those pioneered by Montessori and others, education is now tending to be child-oriented. This has also led to a rethinking of the role of the teacher, and some of the ancient and medieval teachers who practised child-centred or learner-oriented education are being increasingly appreciated. The wisdom of the past and contemporary thinking seem to be converging on several common points that underline the characteristics of good teachers and good pupils.
We felt it would be interesting to bring together certain passages relevant to this topic. On such an important and controversial subject as the relationship between teacher and pupil, there cannot be identical viewpoints, even among those who advocate learner-oriented education, particularly when we try to study ideas and accounts from different epochs and different cultural backgrounds. No particular pattern or method was followed in making the selection, and in a sense it is rather random. Considering the limitations of time and space, the compilation suffers from various deficiencies. It is neither representative of the full span of the theme, nor devoted exclusively to it. Some passages are brief, others very long. The selections are in a variety of forms: some are stories and parables, some are accounts of experiences, some are essays, a few are autobiographical, one or two are poems, and one or two are in the form of epistles or dialogues.
The compilation, we hope, is a colourful and interesting bouquet. And it might turn out to be instructive to teachers and pupils — and parents. Indeed, it was not
aim to address this book to intellectuals or philosophers of education, although they, too, may find here some material to further stimulate their thought. Furthermore, at a time when value-oriented education is being widely promoted, itis worthwhile to consider the question of the value-oriented teacher and the value-oriented pupil. In this context, too, this book may be found to be relevant. Each text is preceded by an introduction and, when needed, is followed by explanatory notes and comments. Drawings, sketches, paintings, diagrams and photographs have been added to help the reader understand the texts with a greater ease and joy. At the beginning of the book is an overview which attempts to bring together the prominent ideas contained in the different texts.
We are sure many readers will know of other passages that could have been included. We shall be happy to receive their suggestions for a future compilation.