Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Quote for the day: Northrop Frye on the subversive career of an English teacher

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"At his trial Socrates compared himself to a midwife, using what for that male-oriented society was a deliberately vulgar metaphor. Perhaps the teacher of literature today might be called a kind of drug pusher. He hovers furtively on the outskirts of social organization, dodging possessive parents, evading drill sergeant educators and snoopy politicians, passing over the squares, disguising himself from anyone who might get at the source of his income. If society really understood what he was doing, there would be many who would make things as uncomfortable as they could for him, though luckily malice and stupidity usually go together. When no one is looking, he distributes products that are guaranteed to expand the mind, and are quite capable of blowing it as well. But if Canada ever becomes as famous in cultural history as the Athens of Socrates, it will be largely because, in spite of indifference or philistinism or even contempt, he has persisted in the immortal task granted only to teachers, the task of corrupting its youth." ~~ Northrop Frye, keynote address to the Ontario Council of Teachers of English, October 30, 1980. Published in Indirections 6 (Winter 1981). Republished in Frye's book On Education.

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