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John Ciardi--Another School Year—What For? 汉译

2015-03-09    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

John Ciardi--Another School Year—What For? 汉译

Another School Year—What For?

John Ciardi

Let me tell you one of the earliest disasters in my career as a teacher. It was January of 1940 and I was fresh out of graduate school starting my first semester at a university. A tall boy came into my class, sat down, folded his arms, and looked at me as if to say: “all right, damn you, teach me something.” Two weeds later we started Hamlet. Three weeks later he came into my office with his hands on his hips. “Look,” he said, “ I came here to be a pharmacist. Shy do I have to read this stuff?” he pointed to the book which was lying on the desk.

New as I was to the faculty, I could have told this boy that he had enrolled, not in a technical training school, but in a university, and that in a university students enroll for both training and education. I tried to put it this way. “For the rest of your life,” I said, “your days are going to average out to about twenty-four hours. For eight of these hours, more or less, you will be asleep, and I suppose you need neither education nor training to get you through that third of your life.

“ Then for about eight hours of each working day you will I hope, be usefully employed. Suppose you have gone through pharmacy school---or engineering, or law school, or whatever---during those eight hours you will be using your professional skills. You will see to it during this third of our life that the cyanide stays out of the aspirin, that the bull doesn’t jump the fence, or that your client doesn’t go to the electric chair as a result of your incompetence. These involve skills every man must respect, and they can all bring you good basic satisfactions. Along with everything else, they will probably be what provides food for your table, supports your wife, and rears your children. They will be your income and may it always be sufficient.

“But having finished the day’s work, what do you do with those other eight hours---with the other third of your life? Let’s say you go home to your family. What sort of family are you raising? Will the children ever be exposed to a profound idea at home? We all think of ourselves as citizens of a great civilization. Civilizations can exist, however, only as long as they remain intellectually alive. Will you be head of a family that maintains some basic contact with the great continuity of civilized intellect? Or is your family life going to be merely beer on ice? Will there be a book in the house? Will there be a painting? Will your family be able to speak English and to talk about an idea? Will the kids ever get to hear Bach?”

That is about what I said, but this boy was not interested “Look,” he said, “you professors raise your kids your way; I’ll take care of my own. Me, I’m out to make money.”“I hope you make a lot of it, I told him, because you’re going to be badly in need of something to do when you’re not signing checks.”Fourteen years later, I am still teaching, and I am here to tell you that the business of the college is not only to train you, but to put you in touch with what the best human minds have thought. If you have no time for Shakespeare, for a basic look at philosophy, for the fine arts, for that less of man’s development we call history---then you have no business being in college. You are on your way to being the mechanized savage, the push-button savage.

No one becomes a human being unaided. There is not time enough in a single lifetime to invent for oneself everything one needs to know in order to be a civilized human. Any of you who managed to stay awake through part of a high school course in physics knows more about physics than did many of the great scientists of the past. You know more because they left you what they knew. The first course in any science is essentially a history course. You have no begin learning what the past learned for you.

This is true of the techniques of mankind. It is also true of mankind’s spiritual resources. Most of these resources, both technical and spiritual, are stored in books. When you have read a book, you have added to your human experience. Read Homer and your mind includes a piece of Homer’s mind. Through books you can acquire at least fragments of the mind and experience of Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare---the list is endless. For a great book is necessarily a gift; it offers you a life you have not time to live yourself, and it takes you into a world you have not the time to travel in literal time. A civilized mind is one that contains many such lives and many such worlds. If you are too much in a hurry, or too proud of your own limitations, to accept as a gift to your humanity some pieces of the minds of Aristotle or Einstein, then you are neither a developed human nor a useful citizen of a civilization.

I say that a university has no real existence and no real purpose except as it succeeds in putting you in touch, both as specialists and as humans, with those human minds your human mind needs to include.

译文在第二页



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