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Cleveland Abbe’s “The Teacher and the Student” (1909)

February 8, 2015 Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri 

Cleveland Abbe (Wikimedia Commons and Library of Congress)

This short essay was published in Monthly Weather Review in January 1909, as part of the Summary of 1908 (p. 453). The text is copied verbatim, including what we would now recognize as non-gender-neutral language and grammatical errors.


The good work that is done in meteorology is often accomplished by young students working under the experienced guidance of some university professor. The theses submitted by students for attainment of the higher collegiate degrees are very apt to give summaries of our present knowledge from some new points of view and to suggest or even demonstrate some advance in knowledge.

It is thru his scholars, by giving them his best ideas and guiding them as they work, that a teacher may hope to accomplish for his special brance of science far more than he could do single-handed. The best teachers hold the future of science in their hands. Their own broad views and high aspirations must be imprest upon all with whom they come in contact, and especially must young students be inspired to enthusiasm and devotion. The teacher is not to dwell too deeply on his own trials, to lose patience or to be discouraged by overwork, poor laboratories, meager libraries, and want of sympathy; he must overcome these by his own force of character. He is expected to be optimistic in the midst of discouragements. There are always obstacles in the way of success, he who yields and settles down to merely getting a living out of his professorship, represented the lowest grade of the university professor. He who lets every one know his higher aims and hopes, and keeps his students working up toward the researches that he would himself carry out if possible, will surely find enthusiastic helpers. The men who put their science first and their troubles and difficulties last, are those whom the world admires and loves to copy, and who inspire the world.

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