Education is understandably one of the prominent social issues of our day. In this book, Bryce Hess presents his approach to the practical matter of educating students.
After presenting brief reflections on the teacher/student relationship, Hess begins by exploring broad concepts, like “Truth” and “Knowledge” and works down to less abstract matters of education. Each chapter is a brief meditation on a single concept, usually beginning with some general observations, then applying them to the art of teaching. For Hess, a teacher is more like a personal guide than a drill sergeant. The teacher leads students toward knowledge of a Truth that the author portrays as objective and magisterial. Through the teacher’s example—and consistency and discipline—students are invited to transcend ignorance.
These are important ideas with relevance for all. Unfortunately, the book suffers from awkward syntax and a lofty, elevated tone that can be offputting. (“It is not necessary, and indeed it should not be practiced, where a human being who has experienced life then sees another walking the same path they have trod, and do everything in their power to ‘relieve’ them or ‘save’ them from the inevitable outcome, good or bad.”) The author’s genuine insights are obscured by this overwrought and sometimes incoherent prose.
In the last chapter, the author’s tone suddenly changes to a less formal diction (“Sure, it [teaching] can be tedious, redundant, and possibly tiring. The cool thing, though, is that if the teacher is feeling this way, most students only pick up on it if the teacher goes out of their way to showcase it to them”). This sounds like the author’s authentic voice and is a welcome change.
Hess has wisdom to impart but his convoluted style, in which he tries too hard to sound exalted and profound, is likely to deter many readers. Similar ideas, cast in a more direct, straightforward, conversational manner, would better showcase the author’s knowledge and experience.