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我们读书、升学的意义是什么?

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 the University of Kansas City. Part of the student body was a beanpole with hair on top who came into my class, sat down, folded his arms, and looked at me as if to say "All right, teach me something." Two weeks 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. Why do I have to read this stuff" And not having a book of his own to point to, he pointed to mine which was lying on the desk.
给你们讲讲我刚当老师时候的一次失败经历吧。那是1940年的1月,我从研究生院毕业不久,在堪萨斯城大学开始第一学期的教学工作。一个瘦高,长得就像顶上有毛的豆角架一样的男学生走进我的课堂,坐下,双臂交叉放在胸前,看着我,好像在说:“好吧,教我一些东西。”两周后我们开始学习《哈姆雷特》。三周后他双手叉腰走进我的办公室,“看,”他说,“我来这是学习当药剂师的。我为什么必须读这个?”由于没有随身带着自己的书,他就指着桌子上放着的我的那本。
New as I was to the faculty, I could have told this specimen a number of things. I could have pointed out that he had enrolled, not in a drugstore-mechanics school, but in a college and that at the end of his course meant to reach for a scroll that read Bachelor of Science. It would not read: Qualified Pill-Grinding Technician. It would certify that he had specialized in pharmacy, but it would further certify that he had been exposed to some of the ideas mankind has generated within its history. That is to say, he had not entered a technical training school but a university and in universities students enroll for both training and education.
虽然我是位新老师,我本来可以告诉这个家伙许多事情的。我本来可以指出,他考入的不是制药技工培训学校而是大学,而且他在毕业时,应该得到一张写有理学学士而不是“合格的磨药工”的学位证书。这证书会证明他专修过药剂学,但它还能进一步证明他曾经接触过一些人类发展史上产生的思想。换句话说,他上的不是技能培训学校而是大学,在大学里学生既要得到培训又要接受教育。
I could have told him all this, but it was fairly obvious he wasn't going to be around long enough for it to matter.
我本来可以把这些话都告诉他,但是很明显,他不会待很长时间,说了也没用。
Nevertheless, I was young and I had a high sense of duty and 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. They will be a little shorter when you are in love, and a little longer when you are out of love, but the average will tend to hold. For eight of these hours, more or less, you will be asleep."
但是,由于我当时很年轻而且责任感也很强,我尽量把我的意思这样表达出来:“在你的余生中,”我说,“平均每天24小时左右。谈恋爱时,你会觉得它有点短;失恋时,你会觉得它有点长。但平均每天24小时会保持不变。在其余的大约8个小时的时间里,你会处于睡眠状态。
"Then for about eight hours of each working day you will, I hope, be usefully employed. Assume 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 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 are all useful pursuits. They involve skills every man must respect, and they can all bring you basic satisfactions. Along with everything else, they will probably be what puts food on your table, supports your wife, and rears your children. They will be your income, and may it always suffice."
“然后在每个工作日8个小时左右的时间里,我希望你会忙于一些有用的事情。假设你毕业于一所药科大学——或工程大学,法学院,或者其他什么大学——在那8个小时时间里,你将用到你的专业技能。作为一个药剂师,你要确保氯化物没有和阿斯匹林混在一起;作为一个工程师,你要确保一切都在你的掌控之中;作为一个律师,你要保证你的当事人没有因为你的无能而被处以电刑。这些都是有用的工作,它们涉及到的技能每个人都必须尊重,而且它们都能给你带来基本的满足。无论你还干些什么,这些技能都很可能是你养家糊口的本领。它们会给你带来收入;但愿你的收入总能够用。”
"But having finished the day's work, what do you do with those other eight hours Let's say you go home to your family. What sort of family are you raising Will the children ever be exposed to a reasonably penetrating idea at home Will you be presiding over a family that maintains some contact with the great democratic intellect Will there be a book in the house Will there be a painting a reasonably sensitive man can look at without shuddering Will the kids ever get to hear Bach"
“但完成一天的工作后,剩下的8小时你做什么呢?比如说你可以回家,和你的家人待在一起。你所供养的是一个什么样的家庭呢?孩子们在家里能接触到一点还算是精辟的思想吗?你主持的家庭中有民主气息吗?家里有书吗?有那种一般敏感的人看了不会发怵的画吗?孩子们会听到巴赫的音乐吗?”
That is about what I said, but this particular pest 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."
这差不多就是我所说的,但这个讨厌鬼不感兴趣。“看,”他说,“你们教授用你们的方法培养孩子;我会以我自己的方式抚养我自己的孩子。我呀,我会尽一切努力挣钱的。”
"I hope you make a lot of it," I told him, "because you're going to be badly stuck for something to do when you're not signing checks."
“我希望你能赚很多,”我告诉他,“因为你在开支票的余暇会愁没事干的。”
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 continuity of the fine arts, for that lesson of man's development we call history — then you have no business being in college. You are on your way to being that new species of mechanized savage, the push-button Neanderthal. Our colleges inevitably graduate a number of such life forms, but it cannot be said that they went to college; rather the college went through them — without making contact.
14年后的今天,我仍然在教书,在此我要告诉你们,大学的职责并不只是在于培训你,它还要使你接触人类思想的精髓。如果你没时间看莎士比亚的作品,没时间看哲学入门,没时间欣赏艺术的存续,也没时间学习我们称之为历史的人类发展的课程——那么你就没有必要呆在大学里了。你正在变为那种新型的机械化的野蛮人,那种装有按钮的尼安德特人。我们大学的毕业生里不可避免有不少这样的行尸走肉;但是我们不能说他们上过大学,只能说大学曾存在于他们的生活——却没能留下任何痕迹。
No one gets to be 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.
没有外界的帮助,谁也不会成长为一个文明人。要想成为一个文明人,必须获取文明社会所需的知识和文化,而人生苦短,不足以获取人类历史长河中的所有宝贵财产。
Assume, for example, that you want to be a physicist. You pass the great stone halls of, say, M. I. T., and there cut into the stone are the names of the scientists. The chances are that few, if any, of you will leave your names to be cut into those stones. Yet 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 those great scholars of the past. You know more because they left you what they knew, because you can start from what the past learned for you.
比如说你想成为一个物理学家。你走过,比方说,麻省理工学院的宏伟的石头大厅,那里的石头上刻着科学家的名字。很可能将来,你们当中几乎没有人可以把名字留在那些石头上,如果有的话也是极少数。但是只要你们原来上高中物理课的时候不是从头睡到尾,你们当中任何一个人了解的物理学知识都要比许多那些历史上的伟大的学者多。你知道的多是因为他们将他们知道的传给了你,你可以从他们已了解的知识上起步。
And as this is true of the techniques of mankind, so it is true of mankind's spiritual resources. Most of these resources, both technical and spiritual, are stored in books. Books are man's peculiar accomplishment. 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 the 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, in essence, one that contains many such lives and many such worlds. If you are too much in a hurry, or too arrogantly proud of your own limitations, to accept as a gift to your humanity some pieces of the minds of Aristotle, or Chaucer, or Einstein, you are neither a developed human nor a useful citizen of a democracy.
人类的技术发展是如此,人类精神财富的积累也是如此。这些技术和精神的大部分资料都储存在书中。书籍是人类独有的成就。你读完了一本书,你就丰富了你的人生经历。阅读荷马的作品,那么你的头脑里就有了荷马的思想。通过读书你起码能获得一些维吉尔、但丁、莎士比亚的思想和经历——名单是列不完的。因为一本好书必然是一份礼物;它为你呈现你没时间去亲自体验的生活,带你进入一个你在现实生活中没时间去亲自游览的世界。从本质上说,一个文明的人应该知道许多这样的生活和这样的世界。如果你太过匆忙,或是对自己的无知洋洋得意,以至于不能把一些亚里士多德,乔叟或爱因斯坦的思想当作你的品质的一件礼物来接受,那么你既不是一个先进的人,也不是一个民主社会的有用公民。
I think it was La Rochefoucauld who said that most people would never fall in love if they hadn't read about it. He might have said that no one would ever manage to become human if they hadn't read about it.
我记得拉罗什富科说过,大多数人如果没有读过关于爱情方面的书,他们就不会恋爱;他可能还说过如果没有读过有关人类的书,就没有一个人能成为真正的人。
I speak, I'm sure, for the faculty of the liberal arts college and for the faculties of the specialized schools as well, when 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. The faculty, by its very existence, says implicitly: "We have been aided by many people, and by many books, in our attempt to make ourselves some sort of storehouse of human experience. We are here to make available to you, as best we can, that expertise."
当我说到只有当大学使你们,无论作为专业人才还是普通人,接触到那些你们的头脑应该有的那些人类的思想,它才有存在的意义,才有真正的办学目的的时候,我敢肯定我在替文学院的教职员工,也在替专门学校的教职员工说话。教职员工们的存在就暗示了这一点:“在努力使我们自己成为某种人类经验的宝库过程中,我们得到了许多人的帮助,也得到了很多书籍的帮助。我们教师的任务就是尽最大努力使你们能够获得那些专门知识。

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