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Character—the Elements of Teaching 10.3

IT HAS BEEN SAID that cheerfulness will prevent any consistent study of philosophy, and too much humor may very well overwhelm any sustained effort to teach. Certainly this was true of Francisco Garcia, a fifty-four-year-old community college professor nominally responsible for teaching psychology. A large, jovial man with the body of a former linebacker and the disposition of Santa Claus, Professor Garcia was immensely popular with the young because of his relaxed attitude to life and his lively devotion to comedy.Many students classify teachers into two groups: those who tell jokes and those who do not. It was immediately obvious to them to which group Dr. Garcia belonged. Vaudeville and slapstick attained immortality in his classes; the cornier the joke or routine, the louder the laughter that followed it. The fact that most of the laughter erupted from the professor himself did nothing to deter him from continuing to exploit every conceivable opportunity for mirth. Chickens regularly crossed the road with a variety of motives, and his innocent mother-in-law was the unknowing target of a bewildering barrage of derision and abuse.

今天的主人公是Professor Garcia, 他是位在社区大学教心理学的大学老师,因为他对生活的轻松态度和对喜剧的热爱,他很受学生欢迎。
大多数学生把老师分为两种:讲笑话和不讲笑话的。(哈哈哈,真理!我也是这么划分老师的。)

Francisco Garcia was a stand-up comic in the classroom, always two jokes or two punch lines ahead of his captive audiences and scarcely aware of his listeners' reactions. What little psychology was covered during his monologues was introduced as both fun and funny, and students remembered his lectures either as a string of jokes or not at all. Most students accepted Professor Garcia as a campus character and a distinct contrast to other members of the faculty, most of whom were serious to a fault or at best sardonic in their humor; he by contrast amused them, they tolerated him, and the campus had a general sense that his was one class where expectations were low and little effort needed. Some students, a minority, resented Dr. Garcia intensely, found his teaching grossly inadequate, and thought his clownish antics insulting to their intelligence. Yet because they were in a distinct minority, these students felt guilty about the role of spoilsport that their professor's antics forced upon them.

Professor Garcia简直就是教室里的脱口秀演员,虽然他的段子和课堂内容没啥关系,但学生还是十分捧场,觉得Professor Garcia和那些严谨的老师如此与众不同。当然,也有一小批人十分不喜欢Professor Garcia,觉得他的笑话简直是在侮辱自己的智商。但是因为这样的学生很少,他们总是为自己觉得Professor Garcia的段子没用而有负罪感,不想成为扫大家兴的那个人。(很多时候,小部分人是对的。)

Professor Garcia had discovered early in his career that getting a laugh out of students was much easier than teaching them psychology. It pleased him to reflect on how funny he seemed to most of his students; it made him feel that he was popular and well loved. The hostility of a few students, who would have preferred to learn more psychology and endure fewer bad jokes, did not trouble him. "There are always a few bad apples in any barrel," he would remind himself by way of consolation.

Professor Garcia很早就发现让学生笑比教学生知识容易多了。他觉得让学生笑,并且觉得自己备受喜爱很有成就感。(他是表现型人格。我见过这种老师,上课为了个人表现,当然,个人表现比学知识并交给学生轻松多了啊。)对于那些小批不喜欢他的笑话想学知识的学生,他觉得无所谓,因为“篮子里总会用烂苹果”。

During lulls between witticisms, Professor Garcia would remind his students that they should have covered this or that chapter in the textbook by now. He would also tell them that if there was anything in the text that they did not understand, they should feel free to question him about it. In this way he "covered" the material, few questions were asked, and those that did arise he could as easily deflect with a joke as answer helpfully.

上课不敬业的种种表现。

Students who posed questions to Professor Garcia not only felt that they were admitting ignorance in the presence of their peers; they also subjected their names to his endless capacity for puns or their physical appearance to public ridicule. One young man named Wood one day asked an innocent question about child development, only to be subjected to a monologue about going against the grain and barking up the wrong tree. Wood was also asked several times why he "would" ask such a question and told that, if his father had similar doubts at the same age, it would prove that he was a chip off the old block.

上课不敬业的种种表现。

This conduct on the part of Professor Garcia might have jeopardized his career if his jokes had been anything other than merely silly; if his humor had descended to the obscene or scatological, it would surely have entangled him in difficulties with parents, administrators, and the state legislature. But he stayed out of trouble by avoiding religion, sex, and the earthier bodily functions in launching his wisecracks. His geniality naturally extended to his colleagues, and he was always willing to serve on committees, where he would make indignant speeches about the ineptitude of his students and their inability to absorb simple ideas in psychology. He would also wax eloquent on the poor preparation his students had received in high school and thus shift the responsibility for his own inadequate teaching onto the shoulders of unidentifiable predecessors. Many of his colleagues therefore believed him to be a brilliantly amusing teacher who unfortunately had blockheads for students.

他并没有收到家长,学校的投诉,因为professor Garcia的段子没有涉及宗教,性等话题,甚至他的同事都喜欢他。他把自己没教啥知识的责任转移到学生之前的老师身上,说这些学生高中时没学好。于是,他的同事都觉得professor Garcia是一个好老师,只是不幸有了脑袋像石头一样的学生。(这位老师也是很绿茶了。)

Though Professor Garcia's classroom personality was comforting to him, he had no sense of what his students needed and no concern for their intellectual welfare. In the classroom, his principal object was to amuse himself,and the apparent amusement of others was the pleasant by-product of this preoccupation. Though he might have been better suited to the worlds of selling, advertising, or entertainment, his success in those fields would have depended on his ability to blame others for his defects and avoid detection in doing so, and he probably suspected that he would fail at both. So he remained a community college teacher.

professor Garcia从不考虑学生的学习需求,他主要的上课目标是为了让自己开心,让别人开心只是自己行为的副产品而已。他可能更适合在广告,销售或娱乐行业工作,但他在这些领域如果能够取得成功,也只是通过他为自己的错误而贬低别人而已,于是,他还是觉得做个社区大学的老师更安全。

If Professor Garcia had adopted a motto, it might well have been "Leave 'em laughing"; it certainly wouldn't have been "Leave 'em learning." But his early, successful experiences in the classroom had shown him how easy it was to be liked by the majority of students for telling jokes, and he had succumbed to the siren of popularity, his appetite for easy acclaim much stronger than his interest in teaching well. And that appetite had never abated throughout his career.

如果professor Garcia有座右铭的话,那一定是“让我尽情笑吧”,而不是“让我忘我学习吧”。他早期的教学经历表明了他受学生喜爱是如此的容易,比起教的好,他更喜欢接受这些赞美。

When he eventually retired from the college after more than forty years, he was lauded in the farewell ceremonies for what was described as his "dedicated service." He spent his golden years writing articles castigating his former colleagues and advocating the reform of teaching. While these writings lacked substance and authority, they had readers, as Francisco Garcia noted with great satisfaction, "rolling in the aisles."

当他退休的时候,他因为自己的教学经历而广受称赞。他还写了些文章来批评自己之前的同事,并且提倡教学改革。但是这些文章并没有啥权威,是有人读的,就像professor Garcia自己说的那样,他的文章让人捧腹大笑。

这个故事告诉我们,那些上课总是讲段子,不讲正经知识的老师们,你可能很喜欢他们(当然,我也是)。但是,他们可能讲段子就是为了让自己开心,他们可能根本不在乎你学了没有。

Character—the Elements of Teaching 10.3
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