Quote: A professor's lecture notes go straight to the students' lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 7 16:58:22 UTC 2012

That tells us that Edwin Emery Slosson is supposed to have said it.

Here's what he wrote in his book Great American Universities from 1910:

As it is, the professors give too many lectures and the
students listen to too many. Or pretend to; really they
do not listen, however attentive and orderly they may be.
The bell rings and a troop of tired-looking boys, followed
perhaps by a larger number of meek-eyed girls, file into
the classroom, sit down, remove the expressions from their
faces, open their notebooks on the broad chair arms, and
receive. It is about as inspiring an audience as a roomful
of phonographs holding up their brass trumpets. They
reproduce the lecture in recitations like the phonograph,
mechanically and faithfully, but with the tempo and timbre
so changed that the speaker would like to disown his re-
marks if he could. The instructor tries to provoke them
into a semblance of life by extravagant and absurd state-
ments, by insults, by dazzling paradoxes, by extraneous
jokes. No use; they just take it down. If he says that
" William the Norman conquered England in 1066," or
" William the German conquered England in 1920," it is
all the same to them. They take it down. The secret is
that they have, without knowing anything about physio-
logical psychology, devised an automatic cut-off which goes
into operation as they open their notebooks and short-
circuits the train of thought from the ear directly to the
hand, without its having to pass through the pineal gland
or wherever the soul may be at the time residing and hold-
ing court.


On Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM, Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Quote: A professor's lecture notes go straight to the
> students'
>               lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> College is a place where a professor's lecture notes go straight to
> the students' lecture notes, without passing through the brains of
> either.
> Above is a popular modern version of a saying that I have been asked
> to trace by a Ph.D. candidate who wants to employ it. Of course,
> Googling reveals that many people believe that Mark Twain, the
> mystical fount if humor, is responsible for this clever jibe.
> The earliest instance I located while searching yesterday was printed
> in 1927. Evidence of earlier instances would be welcomed.
> Cite: 1927, Creative Learning and Teaching by Harry Lloyd Miller Quote
> Page 120, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. (HathiTrust)
> http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b305140
> http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b305140?urlappend=%3Bseq=140
> [Begin excerpt]
> In the inimitable phrasing of Slosson, "Lecturing is that mysterious
> process by means of which the contents of the note-book of the
> professor are transferred through the instrument of the fountain pen
> to the note-book of the student without passing through the mind of
> either."
> [End excerpt]
> Google Books assigns a 1922 date to "Proceedings of the ... annual
> meeting of the American Association of Junior Colleges, Volumes 1-10".
> But the saying is in the 1928 Proceedings.
> The QI blog covers two quotations associated with the recently
> deceased controversialist Gore Vidal. Additions welcomed.
> It Is Not Enough to Succeed; One’s Best Friend Must Fail
> http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/08/06/succeed-fail/
> Death Was a Good Career Move
> http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/08/04/good-career-move/
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list