education

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Charles William Eliot & Harvard University - A Storehouse Of Knowledge
At a dinner held in his honor one evening, Harvard president Charles W. Eliot was regaled by toasts from several professors. "Since you became president," one colleague enthused, "Harvard has become a storehouse of knowledge.""What you say is true, but I can claim little credit for it," Eliot replied. "It is simply that the freshmen bring so much in and the seniors take so little away!" [The original admission requirements for Harvard required that scholars be "able to understand Tully, or such like classical author, extempore and make and speak true Latin in verse and prose, and decline perfectly the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue." ]
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Benjamin Jowett: Finding God
Oxford professor Benjamin Jowett was once approached by an arrogant young student. "Master," he said," I have searched everywhere in all philosophies, ancient and modern, and nowhere do I find the evidence of a God." "If you don't find a God by five o'clock this afternoon," Jowett replied, "you must leave the college."
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Peter Ustinov - class clown?
Peter Ustinov once received a letter from the headmaster at his young son's school: The boy had assumed the unfortunate role of class clown, the master explained. Moreover, his antics made classmates laugh and were a distraction. Could Ustinov not control his child? Ustinov composed a reply: He was able to afford the school's high fees, he explained, only because he himself was well compensated for assuming very similar roles in his own (adult) life...
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Joseph Bell: Elementary Schooling
Dr. Joseph Bell (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's medical school mentor and the inspiration behind Sherlock Holmes) customarily subjected each new class to a curious test: holding a jar of liquid, he would explain that it contained a potent drug with a very bitter taste. "We might easily analyze this chemically," he would say, "but I want you to test it by smell and taste and, as I don't ask anything of my students which I wouldn't be willing to do myself, I will taste it before passing it around." The students would watch uncomfortably as Bell dipped a finger into the liquid, put his hand to his lips, and sucked it. With a grimace, he would then pass the jar ...
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Joseph Bell: Cheeky Diagnosis?
One day Dr. Joseph Bell (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's medical school mentor and the inspiration behind Sherlock Holmes) assembled a group of students around a patient's bed to demonstrate the deductive method of diagnosis.  "Aren't you a bandsman?" he asked the sick man. Yes, the man politely nodded. "You see, gentlemen, I am right," Bell continued. "It is quite simple. This man has a paralysis of the cheek muscles, the result of too much blowing at wind instruments. We need only inquire to confirm. What instrument do you play, my man?" The patient's reply? "The big drum, Doctor."  [More often than not, Bell was correct. He first impressed 18-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle by correctly deducing that a patient was a ...
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Robert Benchley - hard work pays off?
A scene in one of Robert Benchley's movie shorts called for the writer to be strung up in a jumble of telephone wires high above a city street. While waiting for the final camera, Benchley suddenly turned to his wife, Gertrude. "Remember how good at Latin I was in school?" he reflected. "Well, look where it got me!"
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Professor John Berdan - This Theme Is Incredibly Bad
One morning while teaching English composition at Yale University, John Berdan read a particularly awful sample to his class, which critiqued it unmercifully. "Interesting," Berdan remarked. "I wrote the theme myself... You are quite right. This theme is incredibly bad. I spent two hours of painstaking effort last night to make sure I had not omitted a single feature of poor writing, and I believe I succeeded," he continued, pausing for effect. "What astounds me is how you men can dash these things off day after day in ten minutes!"
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Sun Wah Tokyo!?
Following a concert tour in Japan, Ben Folds declared that the trip had been something of a learning experience.How so? "I learned," he explained, "how to say, 'Tokyo f---ing rocks!' in Japanese."[Robert Sledge was more skeptical: "The more records you sell in Japan," he declared, "the more you actually suck to everyone else in the world."][Japanese men are famed for their bizarre obsession with underwear. Every month, thousands of visit burusera ("bloomers, sailor") shops to browse through albums of snapshots of high school girls holding up their skirts. A customer can purchase a girl's sailor-style uniform and used panties—and occasionally her spit and urine.]
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Raymond Weaver - Which Books Interested You The Least?
Raymond Melbourne Weaver (1888–1948) was a Columbia University professor of English and comparative literature, and a literary scholar best known for publishing Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic. When Weaver gave his first English literature students their first quiz, the brash young men whistled with joy at the sight of the question: "Which of the books read so far has interested you least?" Their hoots and hollers, however, were quickly silenced by the second question: "To what defect in yourself do you attribute this lack of interest?"
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Passion Play
On the mandatory divinity section of an oral examination at Oxford University, Oscar Wilde was asked to translate a passage from the Greek version of the New Testament dealing with the Passion. When his examiners, satisfied with Wilde's fluency, declared that he could stop, he continued nonetheless. Finally he was interrupted. "Oh, do let me go on," he pleaded. "I want to see how it ends."