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The Art of Teaching

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The noted classicist presents his educational methodology, within the context of history, from the Sophists to modern teaching.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published March 13th 1989 by Vintage (first published November 21st 1949)
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Ashley Cobb
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Feb 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Over the years I have met people who were students of Gilbert Highet when he was a classics professor at Columbia. He was by all accounts a gentleman of the old school, a genteel and erudite scholar whose lectures on Vergil's Aeneid and many other classical works were widely appreciated. You get a sense as you read this book of just what an amazing teacher he must have been.

Highet's writing is lucid, engaging, and straightforward. The flow is enlivened by many personal anecdotes. He first discus
Roger Lakins
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was first published over sixty years ago. It still stands as a classic mind opener to anyone who is truly interested in becoming a teacher or in improving his or her skills as an educator. If you are only interested in band wagons and believe that no real learning has taken place before your appearance on the scene, this book will be a disappointment. Highet takes an analytical and historical approach to the greatest of teachers and their methods. In doing so, he provides one of the fi ...more
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A bit old fashioned in some things, but otherwise absolutely lovely especially the first three chapters - introduction, the teacher and the teacher's methods. OK chapter 4 on the Great teachers and their pupils was pretty awesome as well. chapter 5 is entitled 'teaching in everyday life'. This book was written in 1950 by a Columbia University professor. I found it in a used book store near Telegraph in Berkeley in the summer of 2008 after teaching a lesson in an Arabic language summer intensive ...more
Tait Jensen
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a product of a far different time, and, thus, we must acknowledge the sexism and the subtle racism while still recognizing the jewels of wisdom contained in these pages. Highet outlines, with humor, anecdote, erudition, and a breezy style, truly fundamental principles of teaching, which serve to both inspire and educate anyone in the teaching profession.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Thus far my favorite book from the Education Practicum.

Addendum: one of my favorite books from almost 3 years at NSA :) Now on a mission to read everything this man ever wrote.
Richard Munro
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A classic always worth re-reading
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really a surprisingly good survey of the various arts and crafts that come together in great teaching. As I'll be teaching a creative writing class starting this fall to H.S. students (home school co-op), the advice here is well-timed.

The book had its ups and downs, and Highet is not embarrassed to cover the most mundane areas (don't mumble!). Taken as a whole, the advice is bracing. I think what I most learned is the way teaching is an act of creative empathy; good teachers know their students
Stefan Hull
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Worth reading again.
Tara Callahan
Oct 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
It had great information, boring and I couldn't finish it. I wasn't motivated to learn the art of teaching anymore. ...more
Ashley Cobb
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Overall this was a pretty good book and had some good nuggets of wisdom to offer the reader. It was written in the 1950's and it shows. A modern reader at first pass may determine that this book is dated "white man worship" filled with sexist language an imagery. I don't think that is necessarily the case. The author's referring to most teachers (especially in higher education) and most students (again especially in higher education) as male is more of a reflection of his time rather than any mi ...more
Not teacher gift basket fodder. A very rewarding read, informative, sometimes even funny. As another reviewer said, it's definitely worth re-reading. Complex, but not overly so. Makes me want to read some Aristotle. ...more
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considering my career as a teacher I had different expectations. The book, however, took teaching into another level that's so broad. The book is filled with other people's experiences in the realm of teaching. ...more
Ben Palpant
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Next to The Seven Laws of Teaching by Gregory, this is the most helpful book I have read on the craft of teaching. She rightly recognizes that all teaching is character formation and his advice Ames toward that end.
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My friend Andy recommended this book after my year of service with Americorps...I loved it and still use today as a reference and to refresh my reasons for wanting to teach!
Oct 28, 2009 marked it as to-read
Recommended by James Schall in Another Sort of Learning, Chapter 3, as one of six books on learning and teaching.
David Withun
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Amelia Stieren
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Excellent book. It’s practical, personal, and even profound at times. Highet lays out what he has to say about the art of teaching in a clear and organized way, but he makes this plan come alive with many examples as well as personal anecdotes.
Austin Hoffman
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
First two thirds were very good. The last third was not as good. Solid, down-to-earth, common-sense instruction given.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Crucial teaching skills in a short book.
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Read most of this and flipped through rest. Its a bit dated, 1955, but presents a very down-to-earth personal account of teaching. It contains many great anecdotes of experience, and lots of advice for teaching. There is also a chapter on historical teachers and their students (Socrates-Plato, Plato-Aristotle, Aristotle-Alexander, Jesus, etc), which are great. A few pages on teaching in the Renaissance was also very interesting.

Some points to highlight:
-get to know your students on an individual
"There is no possible way to educate people except by calm reasoning"


I have always thought that teaching is like ginger; when you taste it for the first time, you feel shocked and feel that it is a very wierd tast that nature presents. By the time, you get used to it then you start loving it and feel that it is tasty. However, you can not drink much of it because it might hurt your kidnee. So, be careful dealing with GINGER (Teaching).

The Art of Teaching

Ashleigh Pollard
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: informational
The Art of Teaching by Gilbert Highet is a chapter book about what makes a great teacher. Highet talks about how important it is for teachers to present what they teach in an engaging manner. Highet takes an artistic approach to his philosophy of teaching by presenting a variety of approaches that should be used in the classroom in order to get the best out of each student. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone regardless if they are an aspiring teacher or not. The l ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
Great examination of the conditions and methods of teaching, along with some meditations on great teachers from history. Comparable to the seminal Seven Laws in its analysis and insight, though it's also a little more concrete and human (teachers ought to have a good sense of humor, Highet points out). ...more
John Hammond
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
The 'meh' of teaching. The first couple chapters had some enjoyable nuggets which I enjoyed thinking about. But as I read on I was left with the impression that the rest of the book is a collection of loosely related ramblings of a cranky old man.
Courtney Clark
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschooling, 2014
So much of this book doesn't relate to homeschooling, which is a rather different beast than teaching. But what DID relate was rich with wisdom. It wasn't an exciting read, but it was a very worthwhile one. ...more
Nov 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-parts, education
I believe I used parts of this book for a research project I did as a freshmen in high school. My bibliography has a publication date of 1950 though.
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2009
dated in place , but very good
Mark Feltskog
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
First rate, and highly recommended analysis of how one masters the "art" of teaching. ...more
Meldi Arkinstall
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An amazingly informative book showing all kinds of teachers through the ages and their different teaching styles.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some excellent insights into what makes great teaching. Come ramblings while erudite and interesting took away from the overall cohesiveness of the book. Excellent over all though.
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Critic and classical scholar, Gilbert Highet was born in Scotland, educated at Oxford, and taught at Oxford and Columbia for forty years. Married to novelist Helen MacInnes. Best known for teaching in the humanities in the UK and USA.

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