Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Two Mamet quotes on Teaching

From David Mamet's Redbelt:

Chet Frank: Ah, but you train people to fight.
Mike Terry: No, I train people to prevail.

From David Mamet's Spartan:

Scott: What they gotcha teachin' here, young sergeant?
Jackie Black: Edged weapons, sir. Knife fighting.
Scott: Don't you teach 'em knife fighting. Teach 'em to kill. That way, they meet some sonofabitch who studied knife fighting, they send his soul to hell.

I like the idea in both of these quotes that what it appears you are teaching, what you think you are teaching, what you think are are learning, is not the real thing. The real thing you should be teaching is something else, something more fundamental. I wonder if when I teach writing I am really teaching something more basic, like thinking.


digital_sextant said...

When I'm teaching writing, I'm usually teaching them to kill. Maybe that's why their organization is so lousy but their voice is pretty aggressive. :D


ps> Hello again! In case you don't remember me, we met in Albuquerque back in, um, 2001-ish(?)

scottmcdarmont said...

Which is why our 'writing' classes are now under the banner of Core which is 'introduction to written and oral communication' and includes critical thinking and argument as part of the course description.