“Ms. Taylor wanted to impart knowledge, the sort of stuff that shows up on tests. But within weeks, students forget 90 percent of the knowledge they learn in class anyway. The only point of being a teacher is to do more then impart facts; it’s to shape the way students perceive the world, to help a student absorb the rules of a discipline. The teachers who do that get remembered.
“She didn’t so much teach them as apprentice them. Much unconscious learning is done through imitation. She exhibited a way of thinking through a problem and then hoped her students participated along with her.
“She forced them to make mistakes. The pain of getting things wrong and the effort required to overcome error creates an emotional experience that helps burn things into the mind.
“She tried to get students to interrogate their own unconscious opinions. Making up your mind, she believed, is not like building a wall. It’s more a process of discovering the idea that already exists unconsciously. She wanted kids to try on different intellectual costumes to see what fit.
“She also forced them to work. For all her sentimentality, she did not believe in the notion that students should just follow their natural curiosity. She gave them homework assignments they did not want to do. She gave them frequent tests, intuitively sensing that the act of retrieving knowledge for a test strengthens the relevant networks in the brain. She was willing to be hated.
“Ms. Taylor’s goal was to turn her students into autodidacts. She hoped to give her students a taste of the emotional and sensual pleasure discovery brings – the jolt of pleasure you get when you work hard, suffer a bit, and then something clicks. She hoped her students would become addicted to this process. They would become, thanks to her, self-teachers for the rest of their days. That was the grandiosity with which Ms. Taylor conceived of her craft.”
Brooks, D. (2011). The social animal: The hidden sources of love, character, and achievement (pp. 82-83). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.