Mittwoch Matinee

In the spring of 2006, a student came to my office to tell me that she had decided to become a professor and would continue her studies after graduation. I was surprised. This student had been disengaged for most of the semester and showed little interest in anything that went on in the classroom, at least from what I could tell.

Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you never really know what goes on in students’ heads as they sit there staring back at you. And I get a lot of stares.

“That’s great news,” I said. “So, what made you decide that?”
“Your class.”
I sat up. Something about my teaching had inspired her.
“Really? What about it?”
“Well,” she said. “All you do is come into the classroom and start talking. So, I thought, how hard could it be?”

Now you can find out just how hard. Next month you will be able to purchase How Hard Could It Be? Teaching as Agonistes, an ebook collection of your favorite blog posts on teaching. It will include posts on the imagination, President Lincoln, failure, student engagement, and even classroom sabotage.

So, be on the lookout. Teaching as Agonistes may prepare you for that day when a student comes to your office and tells you that they want to be just like you. In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt from one of my favorite scholars on teaching and learning, George Steiner.

Haven’t had enough? Go to Robert Brancatelli. Cover art “Jacob Wrestling the Angel” by Wayne Forte. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance.


  1. I dont know Rob, to Love knowledge? Some people love knowledge, a plagerism of someones dream? Some take Pride in knowledge as if they cornered the market on privelage. Knowledge is not permanant it escapes us most of the time throughout our daily experience. It comes it goes from infancy to old age. It is a tool to use appropriately to Love. To take Pride is moot.
    A self actualized person is unioned with Mind, Body and Spirit. It must be in balanced with humility.

    1. Hi Bernard,

      I really appreciated the excellent points that you shared in your post. Thank you for this.

      In my life, knowledge does not help me when I am sitting with someone who is dying, alone, with no family present. Knowledge does not help me when I must tell parents that their five year-old child has autism and will likely require support throughout their lives. Knowledge did not help my parents when they were told that their baby, my sister, was brain-damaged and there was nothing to be done. Knowledge did not help my parents through the sadness that permeated their entire lives.

      So, yes, Bernard, knowledge can be a wonderful tool, but St. Paul wrote that there was a more excellent way; Love is…


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