As I have remarked earlier, a day by day chronicle of a schoolmaster's life makes extremely dull reading. The 26 years at Andover after my return from the War were, despite occasional 'excursion and alarums," monotonously pleasant. Accordingly, I have decided to cast the second part of this book in the form of topical chapters --- on teaching, on housemastering and discipline, on my travels, and on various other topics of possible interest.
Those years brought, like the first frosts of autumn, the warning that life's winter was approaching, albeit slowly. My mother died at 80 in 1952 after a long and distressing physical decline. My father lived to a vigorous 90, dying suddenly of heart failure in 1956. By a strange coincidence he was found in death on the floor beside his bed, just as he had been found with his mother at his birth. So began the sad, inexorable procession of the deaths of friends like strokes of a passing bell. Lee Purser died in 1962; Arthur Lane, my friend from high school days in 1966, both by their own hand in despair over illness. Since then such tidings have come ever faster, but, in time, the pace will slacken as the number of those left grows smaller. Strangely, although I was prepared for the infirmities and limitations of age I was not prepared for these successive blows, even though I had the example of Father's loneliness in his last years to warn me. However kind our juniors may be, there is no replacement for the comfortable sense of sharing the same memories. To alter the words of an Irish song, we speak a language which the younger never knew.
I suppose that this is the place at which to mention the books which I have written since most of them were published in the post-war period.
Sometime in the late 30's, I have been unable to find the exact date in my diary, Professor Jackson summoned my friend Henry Phillips and me --- Henry was my opposite number at our sister school, Phillips Exeter Academy and we had been in graduate school together --- to his apartment overlooking the Charles River and told us that he was relinquishing his long-held project of writing a Greek book for beginners and wished us to write it in his place. He had a careful sketch of the table of contents which he wished us to follow and was presenting us with that, along with his blessing. I have never ceased to marvel at this volte-face in his attitude toward me, but I certainly was not inclined to reject the proposal of one of the greatest teachers I had ever known. If I may be technical for a moment, Professor Jackson had long objected to the usual scheme of Greek beginners' books which postponed to the very last the learning of what are called the "-mi verbs." These are a very few, very irregular verbs which include some of those in most common use, to be, to go, to send, to stand, to place, to give, to say. Without a knowledge of these verbs it is quite impossible to read a page of normal Greek. In books which reserved their study until the last few lessons it was necessary to use "made-up Greek" for the earlier portions of the book. Professor Jackson's scheme made it possible to begin reading "real Greek" at a very early stage. It chanced that Henry Phillips had for some years been collecting sentences from the Classical authors which were either interesting in themselves or illustrated some particular form or construction. So, naturally, in the division of labor it fell to him to provide the exercises in translation, whereas my task was to write the grammatical exposition. The book was severely condensed and was designed for college students or for seniors in secondary school; it is a hard text, as I have often been reminded by those who have learned their Greek from it, but I think that I am justified in saying that it does the job. It does take hard teaching for unlike so many contemporary texts, it does not try to do the teacher's work for him. We could find no publisher for it so paid for its publication ourselves. It appeared first in an off-set edition with cardboard covers and a ring binding in 1941. After three revisions and reprinting in this form the Harvard Press decided to take it over and they published the first hardcover, letter-press edition in 1949. It has been several times revised since then and, despite constant complaints about its austerity, still holds its share of the market, presumably because it gives what Professor Jackson used to call "the irreducible minimum of Greek syntax."
A natural sequel of the New Introduction to Greek as it was called, was A New Greek Reader. Henry and I were inspired in part by Wilamowitz-Moellendorff's Griechisches Lesebuch with it wide selections from some of the later and seldom-read Greek authors, and in part by the scarcity of annotated editions of the standard authors which made teaching difficult after the War. The Harvard Press rather unenthusiastically agreed to publish this in off-set if we would find someone who could type the master sheets. Unhappily the lady who undertook to do so passed through the joys of marriage and the trials of pregnancy and childbirth while she was working on the text and the resultant book probably set a record for typographical errors. The recollection of the sheet or addenda et errata which accompanied the book's first appearance still gives me the horrors. In this work we chose the selections and wrote the notes together, but I had the gruelling task of typing out the vocabulary. This book, too, has been revised and reissued, still in off-set, and is still in use, probably because it provides in a single volume numerous passages which are either difficult to find or exist only in scholarly, unannotated text editions.
Just before the War, my old Harvard student, William Graves Perry, Jr., the son of the distinguished Boston architect, embarked with me upon a project of making a new translation of Homer's Iliad No significant translation had been made since the great Lang, Leaf and Myers version of the late 19th century and our purpose was to produce one somewhat less archaic and romantic in language. We did not propose wholly to exclude archaism, for Homer, to the ears of an audience of the 5th century B.C., was as archaic as Chaucer is to our own time. The enterprise received considerable impetus during the summer of 1939 when I found myself at loose ends in an apartment in Bremerton, Washington. The plan of the summer had been that I should meet Lee Purser at the Fair in San Francisco and then join him in Bremerton where his ship was to be in drydock for several weeks. We purposed to take an apartment and hire a car and drive up the Columbia River and if time permitted, to explore the Olympic Peninsula. Unfortunately, Lee was sent into hospital for an operation almost immediately after his ship's arrival and I was stranded in the not very interesting town, being prevented by a strike of the ferrymen from even going across the Sound to Seattle. So I filled the long hours with steady translation. The method which Bill Perry and I worked out was that I should make a version directly from the Greek and turn it over to him, whereupon he would compare it with other translations and criticize the style. Then we would have dinner at his home and sit down afterwards in the company of his charming wife, Helen, and battle over the text, fortified with the drinks which Ennius long ago said were a necessary stimulus to the poetic instinct. When the book appeared it bore a dedication "TO HELEN' which, as we intended, left the reader in doubt whether this meant Helen of Troy or Helen Perry. Unhappily, the vineyard so long untilled sprang into activity immediately upon the appearance of our book as translation followed translation. Our worst rival was the smart-alec version of Rouse which pleased the spirit of the times. Our book still enjoys a modest sale in paperbacks and I shall always feel that it is a far closer approximation to the effect of the original than most later versions.
My fourth full-length book --- I pass over various articles and brief translations --- was the only one not to be a collaboration. In 1955 I took over the chairmanship of the combined Greek and Latin Departments at Andover. (Up to that time Greek had always been a separate kingdom in which I could happily say, "L'état, c'est moi." But Mr. Kemper, upon the retirement of the Head of the Latin Department, decided for economic reasons to make a single Department of the Classics and despite my strong "Nolo episcopari," compelled me to assume the chairmanship.) One of my first projects was the raising of the standards of the first year course. It had been cut back repeatedly with less and less of the essential Latin grammar being covered; yet each cutback had been followed by increasing failures in the course. It was my contention that if in Revere Junior High School in 1919-1920 an ordinary Latin I class could successfully absorb the basic grammar it was absurd to act as though the select group of students at Andover could not do as much. So I decreed that we should complete the entire fundamental grammar in Latin I. We did so, and our rate of failures at once went down. This confirmed my belief that the students had been bored by having too little asked of them and I am convinced that one of the basic factors in the decline of public education in the United States since the 30's is its underestimation of the capabilities of normal students and its failure to challenge and thereby interest them.
Another change which I introduced was a widening of the number of authors read in the second and third years of Latin. In Greek there is a perfect text for beginning consecutive reading after the basics have been learned. This is the Anabasis of Xenophon which is at once easy and lively. In the third year, students read some of the very greatest Greek in Homer. But in Latin II, the traditional curriculum presented the boring, repetitious military annals of Caesar which, I am sure, were in part responsible for the very large number who bade Latin farewell after the second year. The third year was almost as bad with the windy, egotistic orations of Cicero which had no appeal to a generation who were talked to death and distrusted all rhetoric.
Accordingly, two of my colleagues, William Buehner and Allan Gillingham wrote and published readers for the second and third year which, while retaining some Caesar and Cicero, expanded the students' view of Latin literature down into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The Department had long been dissatisfied with the first year text which had been in use for many years, a sound but excruciatingly dull book. I wished that another colleague, John Colby, a superb Latinist and one of the most gifted teachers of elementary Latin in his generation, would produce a new first year text. However, I could not persuade him to do so and so was forced to bell the cat myself. I spent the summer before my first sabbatical, that of 1956, in writing a text, doing grammar, exercises and vocabulary myself. I then turned the manuscript over to my colleagues and fled to Europe while they went over it. The following summer I rewrote the book in the light of their corrections and then a team of us mimeographed the whole text for me to try out on one Latin section the following years. It worked out well, perhaps because the class took an unholy joy in spotting errors, both typographical and otherwise.
I will add a word for the benefit of those who may ever contemplate doing a beginners' book in any language. One of the hardest problems is that of keeping track of what words have already been given in vocabularies of the successive lessons so that in composing sentences for the exercises one does not confront the students with a word which they have not seen before, something which they always seem to take as a personal affront. I found that the only way to overcome this difficulty was to make a card for each word as it was given and mark on the card the number of the lesson in which the word first appeared. These cards were, of course, of basic value in writing the general vocabularies at the end of the book.
One of the inevitable difficulties of our Greek book was the fact that since we could not fully control the vocabulary of the sentences taken from Greek authors, we were obliged to annotate a great many of the words; it took several revisions before we had covered all of them.
Nearly all the traditional Latin beginners' books had been aimed at reading Caesar in the second year; consequently their vocabularies were heavy with military terms and almost exclusively drawn from a man's world. I tried to move away from this tendency as much as possible, going through the large Harper's Latin dictionary and picking out the words of greatest frequency in Latin prose in general. Even so, because war was Rome's chief occupation I could not wholly avoid the military tone. I also tried to bring in some feminine names and occupations and interests, inventing a heroine named Claudia whose outstanding physical attribute was her large feet, probably because of the exigencies of the vocabulary at the time when she first appeared. And, since the book was aimed at the 14-15-year-olds, and that age loves "corny" humor, I included some excruciatingly bad jokes. And this reminds me of a frank remark made to me once at commencement by a boy who had taken Senior Greek with me. He began by saying that he had enjoyed the course and thought it well-organized. "And," he added, with obvious good will, "even your jokes weren't as bad as I had heard."
I have been much perplexed as to how I should deal with the problem of the large number of colleagues whom I had in my long years of teaching. It is almost impossible to solve this satisfactorily, for to name all is to give an endless, tiresome list, whereas to select some is always to arouse envy and injured feelings. Accordingly, I have decided to name only those who had marked impact upon me either professionally or personally. All autobiographers are, by definition, egoists.
First, of course, was Claude Moore Fuess, the Headmaster who hired me. He had been, before becoming Headmaster, a brilliant English teacher and had begun to become nationally known as a biographer. He was one of the most interesting public speakers I have ever heard --- clear, trenchant, with just the right touches of humor. I was told by those who had known him from the early years that he had not enjoyed a natural felicity in this art but had attained it by long study and practice. As Headmaster he had one surpassing gift and one great fault. Let us take the fault first; he was a colossal social snob, far too much impressed by wealth and fame. This is almost endearingly evident in the naïveté with which he reveals it in his autobiography --- A Yankee Schoolmaster.
I had one amusing experience with this aspect of his character. In my House in the year 1945-1946 I had a pleasant lad by the name of Whittredge Budge who came from a wealthy family with connections both in Honolulu and in San Francisco. It was a custom of the time that after Sunday Chapel coffee was served to visitors in the lobby of the Andover Inn and that usually Dr. Fuess was present to talk with any parents who wished to meet him informally. One Sunday, Budge, because of some academic appointment could not escort his parents to the reception and asked me to do so. They wished to talk with Dr. Fuess about young Whit's progress. I presented them to Dr. Fuess who recognized them as people of importance from Honolulu. Immediately he began: "I suppose you know my friends the D----------s" (naming the most wealthy and powerful family in the Islands). The Budges admitted the acquaintance and at once changed the subject, asking how Whit was doing. "Oh, splendidly," said Dr. Fuess, who didn't have the slightest idea of Whit's standing (which was excellent). "Now," he went on, "I'm sure you must know my friends the C---------s. How are they?" "Well," said Mr. Budge. "How are Whit's grades?" "Very good, very good," said the Headmaster and returned to the charge, naming a third prominent family. At that point the Budges gave up the battle and withdrew.
Dr. Fuess was notorious for being unable to recall students' names. There is a delightful story about this weakness which may not be wholly fictitious. He was invited to attend and address a dinner of the Andoverian undergraduates at Princeton. The President of the Club was named, shall we say, Dick. Dr. Fuess greeted him at the station with, "Delightful to be here, Harry." During the dinner he called him Tom. Then, on leaving, he said, "A charming occasion. So kind of you to invite me, Bill." Goaded beyond endurance the young man replied, "It has been a pleasure for all of us to have you here, Dr. Perry." (Dr. Perry was the famous Headmaster of Andover's great rival, the Phillips Exeter Academy.)
I was, accordingly, immensely amused when, during the régime of John Kemper, Dr. Fuess' successor, an earnest youth, irked by Mr. Kemper's failure to recognize him, informed me that Dr. Fuess had known every boy in School by name.
Fuess' great strength was an instinct for choosing outstanding men for his faculty. To avoid invidious distinctions I shall not name names, but shall merely state that the Faculty of Phillips Academy in the years between 1930 and 1970 was certainly one of the most able in any preparatory school or small college in the country, including men known not only within the School but throughout the country for their ability as teachers and their learning as scholars. Some, of course, in that period were appointees of Dr. Stearns and Professor Forbes.
Three figures from the earlier years of the century remain ever in my respectful affection. The first was Allen Rogers Benner, my great predecessor in the teaching of Greek. His handsome, impressive figure, fine dark eyes, gray hair and deep voice made his nickname of Zeus peculiarly appropriate. His ability as a teacher was legendary and long before I met him I had studied from his book and heard of his fame from his students. My relationship with him is one of my proud memories, for his tolerance made what could have been an unhappy situation one of pleasant friendship. I had been hired to be his replacement when he should shortly thereafter retire. Since he was most unwilling to submit to the new rule of compulsory retirement and was, by special privilege, allowed to teach until he was 68 he might well have been jealously resentful of my presence. Instead he made a particular point of cultivating my friendship. He did everything to make the demise of the scepter a smooth one, even ordering a whole new set of maps for the Greek classroom in anticipation of my occupancy. One thing, however, he would not do --- allow me to visit his classes. I was most anxious to do so for I wished to learn at first hand the manner in which, year after year, he could make boys delight in learning the horrendous Greek verbs and produce scholars who regularly made 100% on the Greek college boards, while at the same time apparently spending much of the class hour denouncing the wickedness and folly of the Roosevelt administration.
I learned a very important lesson from Professor Benner. A lifelong bachelor, he had devoted his whole life to the boys, remaining a housemaster as long as he taught, inviting boys to spend the summer with him on his farm in Waldeboro, Maine, where his German ancestors had settled many generations before. In this pre-occupation with the boys he somewhat neglected friendships with his colleagues --- not entirely, however --- and when I knew him he had begun to find that the gulf between him and the boys had grown too great. I used to see him emerge from the Commons on spring evenings and invite boys to go canoeing with him or merely to take a walk, only to have them give him a polite refusal. Only within his small House and in the Fraternity of which he was the faculty advisor, could he seem to establish the old, close relationship with the students. I learned from his experience not to count on friendships with the boys for permanent satisfaction. A few, it is true, remain lifelong friends, but even they are soon wrapped up in their own families and their own affairs. I always felt that it was a bad sign when a boy kept returning to the School from college, for to me this meant that we had failed in our duty which was so to mould him that he could stand securely alone, needing us no more. So I made sure that however fond I might be of some boys in the long procession which passed before me through the years I never gave my heart to the hawks and saw to it that I had permanent friendships with my contemporaries.
Because Mr. Benner disliked to drive he used to ask me to drive him to Boston for dinner or the theater and occasionally to call upon Dr. Stearns, Andover's greatest Headmaster, in his retirement in Danvers. I was always grateful for the opportunity to have even a slight acquaintance with one who otherwise would have been only a legendary figure. Mr. Benner had a horror of spending a night alone anywhere, fearing lest he be taken suddenly ill and die alone and helpless. During vacations when he was in Andover, he used to hire a young man from the town to sleep in one of the boys' rooms in his House. In Maine he had a housekeeper. His retirement was not a happy one, again, because he had centered his entire emotional and intellectual life around the School. He told me once that after he withdrew to Waldeboro he dreamed of Andover every single night. One snowy, mid-winter day, not many years after he had retired he fell dead of a heart attack on the street. In a strange way his wish was granted: he did not die alone, but in the midst of neighbors.
Two of the senior members of the Latin Department won my deep respect and affection. One was Horace Poynter, a Kentuckian, nicknamed, not very originally, the Colonel. Of medium height, a little stooped, with a long face, an aquiline nose, light blue eyes, and a thatch of dark brown hair which hardly grayed at all, he was a man of contrasts of whom one might obtain two quite different portraits depending upon the speaker. To most boys in his classes he was what is known as a holy terror. A firm believer in the old doctrine that Latin is a prime agent of mental discipline, he established a reputation for giving only two grades --100 or, much more commonly, 0. A matchless Latinist he made all his first year students keep copious notes on every point of Latin grammar. When I first came to Andover I had almost as much to learn as my students for secondary teaching is very different from that in college. In college one presents the material and the students may take it or leave it; in secondary school one has to teach using carrot and stick as each case requires. (The Colonel was, I fear, partial to the stick.) Furthermore, I had been working so long with small attention to grammar, as one tends to do in advanced courses, that I was really weak on many fine points. Once or twice I had the temerity to disagree with some of his former students on a grammatical point. The formidable notebook was at once produced and I was forced to retreat in poor order.
In my first year at Andover I gained the reputation of being a very easy teacher who passed nearly everyone. Accordingly, everyone who had failed Latin tried to get into my classes the following year. However, I had learned a hard lesson for in the College Entrance Examinations, which all Andover students were obliged to take in those days, most of my students failed miserably and I returned in the fall a changed man. I still recall with shudders my Latin II class that second year. It met at 4 in the afternoon in an overheated room crowded with last year's failures, many of them athletes fresh from their sports but, alas, not always fresh from showers. My memory is vivid of the smell of sweaty bodies, hot steam pipes and monumental wrestlings with Caesar. We spent two or three weeks on Chapter 40 of the first book of the Gallic Wars, a solid block of Caesar's most involved indirect discourse, which I was resolved that they should master. They hated Caesar, they hated me, and I hated Caesar, but, fortunately, not them.
In one of those early years the younger of the Colonel's two sons, the handsome Edward, had me in Latin II and failed. Horace and his wife, Elsie, were abroad that year on a sabbatical and when Elsie returned and was met with the news --- told, I fear, not without relish --- that I had failed Edward, she remarked to me, "I hear that Horace's mantle has fallen upon your shoulders."
To the boys in his House and to his innumerable friends on the faculty and in the town, the Colonel displayed an entirely different side. He, with Elsie's enthusiastic assistance first taught me the meaning of southern hospitality. They entertained delightfully and lavishly, taking a pleasure in so doing which ensured the pleasure of their guests.
I must insert a story here which is relevant only as having occurred at the Poynters'. The faculty had a Shop Club of some dozen members, each of whom took a turn in providing a dinner and reading a paper, usually connected with his professional field. We had visiting us briefly that year the Headmaster of a famous English public school, either Wellington or Marlborough, I believe. For some reasons there was a run on homosexuality in faculty discussions that autumn and everywhere the unhappy Englishman and his companion, the Assistant Headmaster went, they were greeted with this unpleasant topic. On this particular evening the open discussion had barely begun when some tactless member of the Club asked, "What about homosexuality in English public schools?"
A look of weariness and disgust spread over the Headmaster's face and he replied, "Well, actually, we think a little homosexuality is a good thing for our school." Someone gasped audibly and after a short silence the Headmaster, trying to remedy the situation and, as is usual in such cases making it worse, added, "Of course, gentlemen, I don't mean buggery."
The other legendary figure in the Department was that of Frank Benton, a large, solid man, with a figure like those of the football linesmen whom he coached and a head and face precisely like some Roman bust of a no-nonsense Emperor. He loved Caesar and taught him with enthusiasm and infectious élan.
Here again I shall digress with an anecdote, this time one illustrative of the problems of academic department heads. When I was appointed Chairman of the combined Greek and Latin Departments I was acutely embarrassed that the position had not gone to Frank Benton who certainly deserved it on every count. Kemper explained his decision on the ground that Benton had only a few years left before retirement and he wished someone to manage the Department for a period of some length. (Today no one is allowed to hold a Chairmanship for long than five years!) In my desire to repair what seemed to me an injustice which Benton had every reason to resent I went to him and told him that he should teach any Latin course which he desired. (He was not interested in teaching Greek.) He said that the dream of his life had always been to teach Vergil so I said that the course was his. The retiring Chairman, Denis Peterkin, who did not like Benton, professed himself appalled at my decision, saying that Benton would destroy the Vergil course. What happened was that Benton made it so popular that we had to make two sections instead of one. The day came when Benton was to retire and again the Vergil course became an object of desire. I have mentioned Jack Colby as a superb Latin teacher and I knew that he would give his soul to teach the Vergil. I also knew that he had been, in his own opinion and in mine as well, undervalued during Peterkin's Chairmanship. So when Benton asked me who was to take over his Vergil I told him that I planned to give it to Colby. Now Benton and Colby had a mutual enmity so intense that I had to take care lest a boy who had had one in the previous year go into the other's section the next. Benton exploded, "If you give Colby the Vergil he'll destroy it in two or three years." Once again events overruled the objector and Vergil continued to flourish under Colby.
Upon my coming to Andover four couples were particularly warm in their welcome to me --- the Barsses, the Blackmers, the Baldwins and the Paradises. Jack Barsse was the widely erudite Physics Master, later Head of the Department; he and his wife, Helen, are still among the most delightful of my old friends. Alan Blackmer was a brilliant English teacher, later to be Dean of the Faculty. For two years after I gave up Housemastering, I occupied a small apartment at the back of the house where he and his wife, Jo, lived, becoming almost a member of their family. Gray Baldwin was the School minister. He and his wife, Kay, were very liberal in their political and social beliefs as indeed were all those four couples. Gray and I were often on opposite sides of faculty debates on policy. Once I met him in the lobby of the Administration building just prior to a faculty meeting and I commented that we had had many a good battle. He laughingly agreed, whereupon we went into a meeting in which we had one of our angriest encounters. Scott Paradise taught English and was for a long time Alumni Secretary. As is so often the case Scott's gentle urbanity was nicely complemented by his wife, Allie's sprightly vivacity. It is, I believe, a testimony to the power of civilized manners that despite the deepest differences in our philosophies my friendship with all these couples has survived for over 40 years.
I have already mentioned my close friendship with Jim and Alma Grew. Equally close were those with Chester Cochran and Norman Vuilleunier. Cochran came to Andover in 1936. Strikingly handsome in those days with thick brown hair and brown eyes, he had all the tastes of the sophisticated New Yorker. He dressed with great care and good taste, loved the theater, fine restaurants, smart society. He taught French, coached dramatics for many years, and was one of the wisest Housemasters of his generation, having a light hand on the reins but knowing just when to pull up on them. His character was a complicated one and although we were the most intimate of friends until his death in 1974 there were aspects of his life which were never revealed to me. There was a curious weakness in his character --- flaw is too strong a word ---which kept him from realizing all his potential; a combinations of indolence and modesty is, I suppose, the best description for it. What I always believed to be the great mistake of his life was his failure to marry a beautiful and charming girl who was in love with him but who at last grew weary of waiting for him to arouse himself from his eternal tergiversations. It was a great pity for he was particularly fond of children and had a winning way with them. After he had let that opportunity slip by he turned more and more inward. In his last year of teaching he suffered a massive cerebral incident and lay helpless for two nights and a day in his apartment. After a long convalescence he retired to a limited life in an apartment in Newburgh, New York, all his plans for a delightful retirement divided between New York and Paris come to nothing.
Norman Vuilleunier, an alumnus of Andover, came to the School as an English Master about 1940. He is a brilliant teacher, one of the most illuminating lecturers upon poetry whom I have ever heard. I suppose that I should now use the past tense of his teaching as he has just this spring retired from Boston University where he taught for many years after leaving Andover, just after the War. He, Chet and I formed a sort of bachelor triumvirate; unlike Chester, Norman and I were animae naturaliter caelibes. Happily he still survives to delight me with witty letters and occasional reunions.
In the spring vacation of 1941 the three of us went in Norman's car on an expedition to Florida. It was a delightful trip, replete with amusing incidents, but perhaps the most dramatic occurred on our return journey. We had stopped at a roadside restaurant in Georgia for lunch. Chet had gone to wash up and when he returned he bade us examine his face. It was covered with the eruption of what we decided was chicken pox, basing our conclusion not only upon the appearance of the rash but also upon the fact that a boy in a play Chet had been directing just before vacation had had to leave the cast because he had come down with the disease. (By chance I recall the boy's name, Bill Moorehead, who, when I last heard from him was a member of Congress from Pennsylvania.) Chet's affliction precipitated a great debate as to whether he would infect fewer people if sent home on the train or if he continued with us, who had both had the disease. We finally decided that the latter was the more humane course. I remember more or less smuggling our companion into a hotel at Chapel Hill or Durham with his coat collar turned up and his fedora pulled down over his face, exactly like a character in one of the gangster films then popular.
I also recall an amusing evening at our friends' the Woolsey's after we had entered the War. All three of us had registered that day for the draft and we were estimating our chances of being accepted. Chet and I were certain that we would be; Norman removed his shoe, displayed his very flat feet and said that he was certain of rejection. As it turned out I volunteered, as we have seen; Norman was accepted, flat feet and all, but poor Chet came dejectedly back up Andover Hill, classified as 4F because of the high blood pressure which was eventually to kill him. Later, however, Norman was given a medical discharge because of his feet.
The faculty of those years was very largely composed of bachelors, most of the dormitories having quarters only for single men. Two large tables in the Faculty Dining Hall were filled with bachelors at most meals. Indeed, those who wished to marry were often obliged to leave the School for lack of married quarters.
Mr. Kemper arrived as Headmaster with a strong prejudice against bachelors. Swimming with the tide of social change which encouraged early marriages he resolutely reversed the old proportions between the two classes of Master, converting dormitory after dormitory into married quarters. The change has not been entirely a happy one for in place of the problems presented by lusty young bachelors and eccentric older ones, he burdened the School with the multiple problems presented by marital strife, teaching wives, subvention of the education of faculty children, and divorces. Also, the change brought a diminution in the time and concern which boys had once received from the better single men, for family cares simply preempt time which might be devoted to boys in one's House.
But in the "most high and palmy days" of the bachelors, some very colorful men ruled in the Faculty Dining Room. At the ends of one long table sat "Zeus" Benner and Ray Shepard. The latter, whom I have already mentioned as consoling me when I was about to enter the Service, was a handsome, very heavy-set man, who coached football and track and was in general charge of athletics. He suffered from severe diabetes and in those early days of insulin used to come in to breakfast and set his watch before him on the table to note the exact moment when he might begin to eat after his early morning shot of the drug. He was a man of character as sturdy as his physical person and one of the best judges of a boy's character whom I have ever known. I said many times that he was the only man in Phillips Academy to shoe judgment about a boy I would defer.
The other table had been presided over by James "Bushy" Graham, the very eccentric teacher of chemistry, and by Archibald "Bitch" Freeman, the architect of the superb but widely cursed course in American history which was required of all seniors. Freeman had a thin, ascetic face which would have looked at home under a Jesuit's biretta. Long accepted as an irrevocable bachelor he had electrified the School the year before my arrival my marrying a childhood sweetheart who had had the sagacity to marry and then lose to death a husband worth millions. So Archie spent the balance of a long life in the enjoyment of life's luxuries. Jimmy Graham was the epitome of bachelor precision. On a certain day in June each year he shaved off his beard in preparation for his annual fishing trip in Maine. Every morning he weighed himself and tailored his breakfast menu to suit his weight. (In those golden days we had an option of steak for breakfast!) He developed an old man's softness for little girls to whom he was constantly referring as his little sweethearts. One very disrespectful younger Master, suffering from the awful depression which descended upon us all at the end of the Winter Term, became so furious at Graham's maunderings that he was driven to shout, "Shut up you old goat!" Graham and Freeman were close friends and the story was that they had jointly teased Benner out of marriage with a young lady whom he had been courting. Whatever the reason there was an abiding enmity between Benner on one side and Freeman and Graham on the other, and I never saw him address them or they him save under pressure of the most imperative academic necessity.
Freeman's place at the table was taken by Dirk van der Stucken, one of the most colossal bluffers whom I have ever known. He was of German birth with an unfortunate resemblance to Hitler's henchmen, Goerring. Nearly everything about his background was nebulous. He had been well-educated in Europe though no one could ever discover that he took a degree at any university. There was a story, quite typical, if not true, that once, about to have a portrait taken to send to his mother he asked to borrow for the purpose the Doctor's gown and hood of a friend. He had a good deal of curious erudition but he was such a colossal poseur that one could never be certain where knowledge ended and pretense began. Coming to Andover on some business errand he met Dr. Stearns and talked himself into an appointment to teach Latin and German. In time he edged out the man who would normally have become the next Head of the German Department and held the post until his death from a heart attack in September, 1948, just before the opening of School. He was a darling of the Ladies' Clubs, receiving $50 a lecture on foreign affairs, lectures which he openly acknowledged he composed on the basis of radio news which he listened to as he drove to the meetings in his huge Cadillac named Salambo. He was a dedicated bon vivant, and his death was a natural consequence of a life of rich food, fine wines and no exercise whatever.
Yet there were very many admirable qualities in Dirk. He was an excellent teacher and was a remarkable example of the fact that sometimes men whose characteristics are the reverse of those which are supposed to win boys' admiration can attain great standing among them. To many of those boys who are the despised and sometimes persecuted "odd-balls" of the academic commonwealth he showed enormous kindness and sympathy. He had great social charm and was a true and generous friend. One forgave his outrageous bluffs because he acknowledged them so readily and with such disarming good humor when they were called. When playing bridge, after a few tricks had been taken, he would fling his cards upon the table and declare, "The rest are mine." Those of us who knew him would demand an accounting and when this proved that he would lose several of the remaining tricks he would shrug his shoulders and simply laugh it off. A proof of the deep attachment which still binds boys to his memory is found in the current project of collecting and publishing his poems almost 30 years after his death.
Graham's place at table was sometimes taken, in his absence only, by Charlie Parmelee, the corpulent, short-tempered French teacher who had Walter Savage Lander's unhappy faculty of quarreling with his closest friends. He had private means which enabled him to spend nearly every summer in France where he purchased a superb collection of French literature for the School library. He had designed a beautiful small house for one of the fraternities then quarreled with the members and never entered it after it was built. There was a legend that once, in anger at some younger Master who was sitting beside him at table, he had reached over and stabbed him in the hand with a fork. He was very kind to me when I first came to the School and I was, accordingly, the more astounded when one evening at dinner he suddenly turned to me and shouted, 'Damn it, Chase, you owe me an apology!" Mindful of the fork I hastened to beg his pardon though for what I have never known, then or since. Apparently some chance remark of mine had aroused his short-fused ire. He had at his own expense made over his quarters in Bartlet Hall into a luxurious bachelor's suite with its own small kitchen. Later I was to fall heir to it. He had expected upon Dr. Stearns' retirement to acquire Samaritan House, a gracious three-storied mansion which had been Stearns' residence as Headmaster. (The Fuesses had chosen Phelps House as their official residence.) But Poynter, who was a favorite of Fuess, wanted Samaritan House and so Charlie was disappointed of his dream. Upon retirement he bought and remodeled an enormous house on an island in the Merrimac River, but he had lived there only a short time when he died a slow and painful death of dropsy.
The last of the bachelors whom I shall mention was Allen Cook who was for five years my fellow Housemaster in Bishop Hall. He was one of the most gifted English teachers of his generation, having an uncanny ability to interest the most beefy footballers in the plays of Shakespeare and the lyrics of Wordsworth. He possessed a mordant wit which was so well seconded by a dead-pan expression that one was never certain whether the latter, along with his throw-away delivery, was not in large part responsible for his seeming so excruciatingly funny. I treasure a score or so of his witticisms but I shall let the reader off with one, for too many of them depended upon particular Andover circumstances for their humor. Asked where he had taught before coming to Andover he replied, "At _________, a school situated on a high bluff and operated upon the same principle." And I shall add one more, his put-down of a brash young Master who was holding forth upon the general stupidity of his students. Allen looked at him with poached-egg eyes and commented, "Don't forget that it is their ignorance that gives you your job."
Allen was an alcoholic. When I first knew him and worked with him in Bishop he was careful about his sprees, going into Boston, taking a room in a hotel, and calling me up to ask me to cover for him which I gladly did, for he was exceedingly kind to me. However, one Saturday, he began drinking before he phoned me. Sometime after 10 o'clock that evening as I was sitting with a roomful of my boys there was a knock on my door. When I opened it I found myself facing Dr. Fuess, clad in dinner clothes, with a waistcoat only a bit more scarlet than his face. "Allen Cook," he announced, "has just called and asked me to look out for his dormitory; will you please see to it?"
Allen's drinking grew heavier and more indiscreet. Some of his professed friends used to ply him with liquor because he was even more comic when inebriated. Soon he was drinking during the week and coming home so drunk that his boys had to assist him up the stairs and help him to bed. Yet, with that curious and admirable House loyalty of which I shall soon give another example, the log kept it a secret from the Administration.
During my tour of duty in Washington in the autumn of 1942 Dr. Fuess came to Washington and asked me to dine with him at the Shoreham. After dinner he sat down with me and said, "I have just fired Allen Cook." (Allen had suffered a broken arm in a barroom in Boston and come back to Andover intoxicated.) "But," Doctor Fuess continued, "he begs me to take him back, promising that he will reform. Do you think he can stop drinking?"
It was a painful question for me. I had little hope that Allen could stop, yet he was a friend, and a generous one, and I hated to damn him by my reply. Finally I satisfied my conscience with the thought that many men have conquered the habit and so, literally speaking, Allen could. Whether he would was another matter. So I answered that he could and he was given another chance.
My worst forebodings were fulfilled, however, for his drunkenness began to interfere seriously with his work. I believe the final incident came at the end of the school year of 1945 when he went off to New York before the final faculty meeting, leaving all his final examinations uncorrected and no grades made out.
After his dismissal he lived a wretched existence in Boston, sinking lower and lower, all his money gone, all his possessions, even his treasured books, sold. I met him once in real squalor, cadging drinks in bars.
Finally he was told that if he did not stop drinking he would die. Friends came to his aid and rented a room for him in Andover where he spent his last years, totally sober, living on a small pension plus what he made by teaching some years in the Andover Summer School. It is a tale which Maugham might well have written.
I shall close this topic on a lighter note. Shortly after the War I was asked to Sunday lunch with Carleton and Betty Kimbal, two Andover residents whose son, John, was one of the best Latin students I ever taught. After lunch Carleton, who was an Andover alumnus, and I began recalling anecdotes about School characters like those whom I have described. We concluded sadly that the day of such men was past, that "characters" were fast disappearing from Andover Hill. A few days later I met Carleton on the street in town. He approached me with a broad smile and said, "I've been just waiting to tell you that after you left Sunday John said to me, "You know, Dr Chase doesn't really have to worry!"
This chapter and its sequel are concerned with educational theory and practice. Those unconcerned with, or uninterested in such matters --- who should actually be few given their vital importance to this country and the sad crisis in which we find ourselves --- may well wish to skip them.
It was my good fortune to escape all courses in EDUCATION. I have found that most people subjected to them find them a prime waste of time which might well be better spent upon the subjects which they are to teach. I learned teaching from two sources, from my own experience as a student and from the examples set me by a number of great teachers in the days when teachers spent no time at all in the picket line.
From the first source I learned what a student liked and disliked in a teacher, the second taught me a vast amount about methods. I played what Stevenson called "the sedulous ape" to my great instructors, choosing this from one and that from another. Let me name some of those most influential --- my sister, who taught me French and patience and good humor; S. Louise Simmons, my superb teacher in first year Latin; A. Louse Barker, who, as one of the most brilliant teachers of English whom I ever encountered, impressed upon me the importance of strict classroom discipline and exacting standards; "Baldy" Towne, who made even me enjoy and understand mathematics. All these belonged to the old style of high school teachers for whom their profession was rather a mission than a meal ticket.
At Harvard two men exercised a most profound influence upon both my teaching and my life. One was Carl Newell Jackson of whom I have spoken at length earlier. His methods of teaching the elements of a language, I copied in completely shameless fashion. They will be described below. Chandler Post I have also described. Both his merciless insistence upon accuracy and high quality in every aspect of one's work and his dramatic use of personal crotchets to rivet attention furnished my with telling examples. In lecturing I tried to combine Post's theatrical highlights with the ease and naturalness of Bliss Perry, the famous Professor of English Literature. These served as all the courses in EDUCATION that I ever had or needed. It is an interesting comment upon American education and what ails it that I should never have been allowed a fuiltime contract to teach in the public schools of Massachusetts even with my Harvard doctorate and over 40 years of classroom experience, but should have had to yield precedence to someone just out of college with the statutory hours in EDUCATION.
All my life I have hated vagueness in any form and when I was a student I particularly hated vague assignments --- "go as far as you can." I suppose that the psychological root of this feeling was the fact that vague assignments deprived me of the satisfaction which I have always taken in the sense of a task well completed. This has been a deep motivating factor with me even from childhood and I am sure that all but a few people share it. It is very important in giving that sense of security so vital to the young and is reflected in the story of the child in a progressive school who asked sadly, "Do we have to do what we want to again today?"
Secondly, I like to have papers and examinations graded and returned promptly. To me, the purpose of examinations and their accurate correction is threefold:
1. They provide the teacher with an indication, partial and incomplete, but an indication, of the student's ability, effort, progress and special needs; 2. They provide the student with exactly the same indications, plus the satisfaction of success or the spur of failure, along with the benefit of a review. They can discourage, but discouragement is a phase of life which the young must learn to face and overcome. 3. They provide the student with valuable practice in performance under pressure. Sometimes I have thought that this was their most valuable service to him since the other benefits may be obtained in other ways, but this last cannot.
The prompt return of papers is essential, for the valuable indication of areas of weakness is largely vitiated when the test has grown cold. I well recall a notoriously indolent German instructor at Harvard who returned in February, hour examinations which we had taken in November. Personally, I always tried, usually with success, to return all papers at the next meeting of the class. I then went over the questions one by one giving the correct answers and quoting some erroneous ones, but never, save in rare instance where they succeeded in being unintentionally humorous, identifying the writer if he were not likely to be wounded thereby.
Let us now review a typical hour in a first year language class. The standard beginner's book, and my texts both in Greek and Latin are such, divides a lesson into three portions: a section on forms and syntax; a vocabulary; and then sentences for translation, both from the ancient language into English and from English into the ancient language. There are two groups of these sentences, one on the advance work and one on review. I usually spent two days on a lesson, the first on the grammar, the second on vocabulary and sentences, though if the grammar section was exceptionally long or difficult I used three days, two on the first portion and one on the second and third.
I usually went over the next day's lesson at the beginning of a class to obviate the necessity of having to cut short my explanations at the inexorable sound of the bell at the hour's close. I pointed out and explained any special difficulties, but I also used the opportunity afforded by the vocabulary and, to a lesser degree, the sentences, to push back the walls of the present place and time and range over the fields of philology, literature, history, and philosophy as words or sentences touched upon all these. Here I had the license granted all Classicists by the well-worn Terentian tag, "Every human interest is mine." It was largely through this device that Jackson had so captured my interest and aroused my enthusiasm in his class in beginning Greek. I early discovered that the younger boys, those in the 14-year-old bracket had not yet lost the lively curiosity of childhood and that they are, surprisingly, fascinated by the history of words.
This sometimes led me into indiscretions. I once asked a class to give me the English derivative of the Latin word castra, camp. (The answer was that such place names Worcester, Gloucester, and so on came from the fact that Roman camps once occupied their sites in England.) Unfortunately, one lad immediately suggested castrate. This tempted me into telling them the erroneous etymology which derives castrate from the Latin castor, beaver, on the ground that male beavers were hunted for their sex glands used in the manufacture of perfume and that the sagacious animals, aware of what the hunters sought, would bit off their testicles and leave them behind and so escape. (I recently discovered this legend in Aesop's Fables.) The boys were, naturally, fascinated and one of them, the son of a colleague, related the curious information at the family luncheon table earning me a dressing down by his father for imparting indecent information in my classes.
Next I asked if there were any questions upon the day's assignment, sometimes answering these questions directly, sometimes using the Socratic method to try to elicit the answer from the boy's own knowledge. Of course, there was always the lazy student who hoped to lure me into doing his work for him but such were always easily recognized and soon disposed of. After a few years I could foretell with accuracy most of the legitimate questions arising from well-known, genuine curces. In one case when the class was just beginning Greek accents I used to write one particular error on a piece of paper, hand it to a student and bid him keep it unopened until the board work was done. He would then open it and find my prophecy of a certain error which would be made by at least one of the class. I never failed to be proved correct.
Then came a brief quiz on the forms if it was a grammar day. Usually I sent students to the board for these and corrected and graded them immediately. As soon as the class had learned one or two tenses of the verb I began the practice of sending them to the board as soon as class opened to write a tense synopsis, i.e. all the forms of a certain person and number in all moods and voices of a certain verb which they had studied thus far. It fascinated the boys to watch these synopses grow in length from two or three forms until the board could scarcely hold them all. Like all teachers I had pet proverbs, one of which was, "A synopsis a day keeps the zeros away." This had reference to my much cursed practice of giving a zero for any sentence in which any error of any kind was made with the verb. I explained that the verb was the engine of the sentence, its most important part. This is particularly true in Greek and Latin where the pronoun subject is regularly omitted, the person and number being found in the ending of the verb. Furthermore, each synopsis had to be accompanied by the principal parts, those basic forms from which all other parts of the verb can be derived. Because of the unbelievable variations in the tenses of many Greek verbs a command of the principal parts saves hours of baffling search in the dictionary. (For example, the present of the Greek verb to bear is pher, its future ois, its past definite enengkon. Again, I used to say sententiously, "See ye first the principal parts and all other things shall be added unto you." Many of my old students who went on with Greek in college rose up and called me blessed for this once hated insistence upon learning the verbs.
The Classics meet one at every turn. From the etymological curiosities such as the fact that our word squirrel comes from two Greek words meaning shadow and tail and that the termination --ectomy in surgical language comes from a Greek verb meaning cut out (medical terminology, and, indeed, all scientific language is largely formed from Greek and Latin, particularly the former) to the long history of the plot of Euripides' Hippolytus, the fury of a woman scorned which appears in the tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife in Genesis, in plays by Seneca and Racine, and in Fielding's Joseph Andrews.
I held it always before me that the first duty of the teacher is to teach. At the very beginning of my career I hung in my room two pictures, both of which hang in my study today. One is of a bas-relief which comes, I believe, from the University of Manchester in England. It represents Socrates seated on a curving marble bench conversing with a group of the young Athenians whom he used to gather about him. The other is a print of the Abbey mural in the Boston Public Library which depicts the Archbishop blessing the knights before their departure in search of the Grail. I can hear murmurs of, "How corny!" I can only say that those pictures represent an ideal which has sustained me all my life and which I believe would not come amiss to some of today's young teachers who seem to have lost the old vision of teaching as a sacred trust, a mission in which abnegation must play a part.
I used to tell the several young men who began their teaching under me any fool can flunk students; it takes a man to teach them. This does not mean that I subscribe to the asinine motto, "Every pupil failure is a teacher failure." There are boys who will not work; there are boys who are of limited ability in a certain area, even in a school as selective as Andover; and there are cases of genuine personality conflicts between teacher and student for which neither is really at fault. For this reason I did not, like so many of my colleagues, refuse to accept such a conflict as a ground for moving a student out of one master's class into that of another if I had good reason to believe in the genuineness of the situation.
Despite my reputation as a martinet and what one class wittily referred to as "the zero hour" I had a very low rate of failures and a very high one of honors. The famous "curve" I despised. It is valid only with very large numbers and is favored only by indolent instructors and statistics-mad administrators. I could never see the sense of refusing an A to an A performance, no matter how many in a class achieved such excellence.
Nor would I ever bow to the recent campaign against definite grades. It is only one facet of that disastrous campaign to reduce all to a dead level which will end in the destruction of our nation. With all due respect to Thomas Jefferson, all men are not created equal and to encourage this illusion in the young is only to send them out into the world utterly unprepared to meet its harsh realities. Grades I made both the carrot and the stick. A grade of 100% for a week brought a bonus grade of 100% in making up the term average; a week's grade of zero, a great rarity fortunately, earned another week's zero toward the term.
But let me return to the day's lesson in a beginners' class and explain how my system worked. Every recitation brought a grade with the exception of the synopses and certain other practice exercises which I called "dry runs", such as the review sentences in each lesson which were done at sight and not graded. The principal sentences from Greek or Latin into English were done orally, were assigned for outside preparation and were graded. The sentences from English into the other language were written out at home and brought to class. Certain boys were assigned to put their version of a sentence upon the board. I then corrected these and the class was expected to correct any errors upon their own papers at this time. I always gave the class an opportunity to suggest corrections and to ask questions before I began my critique. In my early years of teaching I spent weary hours correcting and grading such papers at home. But after watching boys glance at the grade and toss the paper into the wastebasket without a moment given to my toilsome corrections, I devised a more sensible system, partly because I became aware how much communal effort, not to say plain copying, had gone into some papers. I took up the papers and checked them to see that students had made the needed corrections. If they failed to do so I gave them a zero.
Because I loathed uncertainty and always wished to know where I stood when I was a student, I developed a very precise system of grading. At the end of each week I averaged each student's grades and read the averages to the class. Andover then had a three-term schedule with a grading period in the middle of each term. At each grading period I gave, at least in the first year courses, an examination. I then made up a grade for the period. At mid-term the recitation grade counted 2/3, the examination grade 1/3. At the end of the term, the mid-term grade counted 1/3, the recitation grade for the second half-term 1/3 and the term final examination 1/3. This very rigid system will, of course, horrify our liberal educators and they will claim that it has a strong tendency to make students work for grades. My reply to that is that I do not care what makes them work so long as they do so. Of course the clever mathematicians could figure out precisely what they had to get to pass or make an honor, but I always had in reserve the grade for the year. Usually I gave the same grade for the spring term and for the year, deeming that this represented the stage to which they had progressed. It was always a pleasure to disregard early failures in the cases of boys who had struggled against odds and won a victory. Indeed, I have even given an honor for the year to a lad who had failed the fall term but done honor work in the spring. Conversely I did not hesitate to fail those who had coasted idly after good grades in the fall. My basic criterion for passing a boy was his ability, in my judgment, to do the work of the following year. Very rarely in cases of hard-working boys with very low linguistic aptitudes, whose diploma depended upon passing a language requirement, I have passed those just below the critical 60% upon their promise never to take Latin again. But this was a risky practice, as I discovered. I once passed a lad named Feinberg in Latin II after receiving such a promise from him. Now we occasionally permitted able boys to take Vergil in their third year, although it was a fourth year course. Shortly after the next year began, Dennis Peterkin, Head of the Latin Department came to me and said, "How did you ever pass Feinberg in Latin II?" I explained my action and Peterkin said, "Well, he is in my Vergil class."
In all the years after the first, a great deal of emphasis was placed upon sight translation since we all felt that that is the only true test of one's knowledge of a language --- as Macaulay put it, "An educated man is one who can read Plato in the original with his feet on the fender." I gave weekly tests in sight and a large portion of all the regular examinations was made up of sight passages. One special advantage of sight as a means of testing knowledge is that it minimizes the part played by the use of translations which may work to the aid of the lazy in prepared work.
This problem of translations is one of the most ancient facing all teachers of languages, particularly the Classical ones. Some have viewed this as a grave moral issue. Members of my generation may recall from their boyhood reading of Tom Brown's Schooldays how Little Arthur's crusade against a parallel practice in metrical composition led to a moral crisis in the life of the hero. Personally I refused to view this as a moral problem, pointing out that the practice carries its own punishment, since one learns words best only by the toil of looking them up in a dictionary. Furthermore, morally speaking, it is hard to make a sound case for the difference between looking up a single word in a dictionary and in a translation. Most modern texts for schools are heavily annotated and translate entire sentences for the students. One well-known edition gave all the crabbed indirect discourse in Book I of the Gallic Wars in a direct form in the notes. The experienced teacher is usually able to detect a translation drawn from a trot by the presence of words quite foreign to the student's usual vocabulary. When I was teaching at Harvard we used to have infallible proof of the use of a trot in Horace class. The popular translation was an English one which used the word undertaker in the new archaic sense of what we call a contractor. One used to wonder what the student thought undertakers were doing on a construction job.
I explained to my classes that learning vocabulary is often a process of looking up the same word over and over until one remembers it out of sheer irritation. I used to tell of my own frequent frustration in looking up a strange word occurring in the text, finding it in the dictionary or vocabulary, then turning back to the text only to discover that I had already forgotten the meaning. This revelation of preceptorial weakness always brought bright smiles of response from the class.
Moreover, one cannot accept wholesale the translation of a difficult passage without the least understanding of how editor or translator arrived at it. For this reason I objected to the very heavy annotation that is now the practice. In general I agree with Professor A. A. Howard's contention that notes are merely a device to display the erudition of the editor. To insure that I knew that the student knew what the Greek or Latin actually said, I insisted in the early years, upon literalness at the cost of elegance, explaining that when I was certain that they knew what they were doing they might begin to cultivate freedom of rendition.
It was customary at Andover to append letter grades for effort to the numerical grades for quality of performance. In some ways this was a blessing for it relieved one of the vexatious problems of reflecting effort in the course grade. One of Allen Cook's more famous bon mots was his explanation of why he had given a 50% term grade with a B effort. "It represents," he said in his driest voice, "a high degree of peer work." Unhappily, nowhere was the subjectivity of human judgment more clearly reflected than in those effort grades. Some men automatically equated the effort with the numerical grade. One famous History master always gave low efforts with failures. He and I once clashed harshly over a boy in my House whom he failed with a D effort. I protested, since I well knew the boy to be a deadly earnest, serious student who spent endless hours over his American History notes. The Master responded succinctly, "If he were working he would not fail."
Some men never gave an A effort whereas I was, I fear, very generous in this respect, though I could be aroused to wrath by conspicuous and continuous loafing. On the other hand, I curbed my natural impatience with "slow" boys who were trying hard. Indeed, I had a great fondness for such boys and one of the best and happiest classes that I ever taught was a "slow" section of Latin II, several of whose members ended the year with honors both in the course and in the College Board Examination. Despite the fact that the boys dubbed Latin IIS "Latin II Stupid" these sections proved great lifesavers.
I have never been known for my fondness for change in any form, yet one innovation at Andover won my warm approval. This was the institution of the Teaching Fellowships. By these we gave young men just out of college and considering a career in teaching, possibly in a private school, a year's experience, under supervision, in every phase of the work --- classroom teaching, housemastering, coaching, presiding over student "activities." There were also conferences with senior teachers and administrators on various phases of school life. In the Classics I usually met with the young men at weekly or fortnightly intervals for reading in some author agreed upon between us. One of my pleasantest memories is of afternoon meetings with Gregory Dickerson and William Scott, both now teaching in the college field, as we read Plato's Republic.
Because of my deep conviction that one's style of teaching is a deeply personal matter which he must work out by observation and experience, I was very anxious that the young men should form that natural style as soon as possible. I made it a practice not to go near their classes for the first several weeks so that the proper and natural identity between them and the classes might be established. Then I began regular but infrequent visits for a sufficient time to observe any possible faults or errors in their teaching. I also urged them to visit all the senior members of the Department, observing their methods and choosing any of these which they might wish to adopt. On my visits I refrained as far as possible from interference saving criticism, of course, for after class. I was always pleased when, if I did interrupt to correct an error by the young man which could not be allowed to pass lest it engrave itself on the student's minds --- and somehow a wrong answer always seems to be more memorable than the correct one --- I was pleased, I must say, at such times to sense resentment toward me on the part of the class for I knew that they had "identified" themselves with their teacher.
Two things I had to impress upon these apprentices --- the short attention span, particularly of the younger boys, and the consequent necessity of constantly varying pitch of voice, position, pace and subject matter. I had one young man who sat the entire hour at his desk never raised or lowered his voice, never departed from the matter of the lesson. I told him that he must adopt the practices I have just mentioned and that, if he could think of nothing else, he should stand on his head on his desk and wave his legs in the air. I used to enjoy having a boy ask a question intended to get me off the matter at hand; I would oblige him by a story or a bit of curious information which served my purpose of a change of pace, enlarged the knowledge of the class and allowed him to feel that he had outfoxed the instructor.
Another trick which I used with the beginners was to tell them that I was going to inform them just what would be in the grammatical portion of the examination, e.g., a complete declension of bonus, a synopsis of sum, the rule for i-stems. They, of course, were delighted, secretly suspecting that the old boy had reached his dotage. They would study like mad, find the promised questions on the paper and get good grades. Thereby they were happy and so was I for they had unwittingly been led to study and learn thoroughly the most important elements of the course. I never believed in trick questions for I felt that examinations should test a student's knowledge, not his ignorance.
And now I must bring this chapter, already much too long, to a close. I realize that those among my readers who are teaching or have taught in public schools have been muttering, "This is all very well for a man who has taught at such institutions as Harvard and Andover, with their picked students and their relative freedom from the problems of stupidity, hostility, paper-mad bureaucracy, and poor discipline which we must daily face." To this I can only reply that I myself went to a public school and that my sister taught all her life in them so that I heard from her of all the frustrations of a public school teacher's daily lot. Yet I believe that the elements of successful teaching are contained in the principles upon which I worked and that the mess to which egalitarians, starry-eyed dreamers and money-hungry, pettifogging lawyers have reduced our schools can be cleaned up only by a return to these principles.