The Education of a Teacher: Essays on American Culture

The Education of a Teacher: Essays on American Culture

The Education of a Teacher: Essays on American Culture

The Education of a Teacher: Essays on American Culture


By combining autobiography with cultural history, English professor Howard Wolf takes us through the 1960s and up to the present much in the way a personal guide would lead us through a museum full of wonders.

The Education of a Teacher traces Wolf's odyssey as he discovers his vocation, from his own college days to his tenure in a Turkish university as a visiting Fulbright scholar. The decades unfold for us: the cold war, student activism, Vietnam, and a trend toward student apathy all prepare us for the technological immediacy of the 1980s. Wolf was and is a passionate participant in the political, literary, and social events that have constituted our recent culture.

The Education of a Teacher is a collection of essays about higher education and American culture that dramatizes and humanizes the often abstractly treated subject of education. Howard Wolf always tries to understand the classroom and the setting of his university in terms of the larger currents of the culture and to make his approach to literature and his students relevant to these currents. Wolf's connections between autobiography and the significant trends of our time enrich the historical record.


The Education of a Teacher is a treasure for several reasons. the reason which I think might be most important to its author is the depth, clarity, and imagination with which the book demonstrates, in a variety of contexts, what it takes to make a good teacher. Wolf doesn't tell the reader that, and I'm not sure he thinks he knows. Maybe no one does, and anyway, as his book clearly shows, sometimes nothing works. But he knows what the ingredients are and the limits within which the proportions may be varied and still provide sustenance for mind and character, so that the power—and the need —to love and to understand would grow and go on growing.

That is what the dissenting students of the sixties, who have meant so much to both Wolf and myself, expected it to do. the fact that it didn't go on growing accounts for much of their rage and for their rejection of letters and history, which Wolf so greatly deplores. Some of the more moving passages of this book detail his strategems to bring these essentials to their attention, so that they would have them when they needed them to make sense of their lives.

The second reason why The Education of a Teacher is a treasure —to me, this is actually the first reason—is the respectful and loving, though never sentimental, account of these students that Wolf consistently gives. the documentary value of this account is further enhanced by the fact that the book consists of essays written at various . . .

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