Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Universities that put people before buildings are bound to succeed


"A university should be a society of teachers and scholars; of teachers who have devoted their lives to the kingdom of the mind, and of scholars who are determined to enter this kingdom. In the pursuit of modern knowledge expensive libraries, large buildings, elaborate equipment and laboratories are necessary. But this should not blind us to the fact that the spirit of the university depends on the men and women who assemble there.

Given a good teacher sitting on one end of a log and an eager student sitting on the other end, the central problem of education is solved: you have the germ of a university.

But the most sumptuous lecture room and the most splendid laboratory do not make a university if the teacher is a pedant and the taught are flippant children sent there to qualify for a profession.

This solution... is not as easy as it appears, because there are too few good teachers and too many flippant students. But a solution is not impossible. Universities which put their money into [people*] before buildings are bound to succeed."

Eric Ashby, Universities in Australia, 1944 pp.75



* In the language of the day, Ashby says "men". Normally I wouldn't change this, but I thought in this instance it was quite distracting

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