Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, October 14, 1999.
If you are lucky in life, you will have at least one great teacher. More than three decades ago, I had Ed Banfield, a political scientist who taught mainly at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. Ed’s recent death at 83 saddened me (which was expected) and left me with a real sense of loss (which wasn’t). Although we had stayed in touch, we were never intimate friends or intellectual soul-mates. The gap between us in intellectual candlepower was too great. But he had loomed large in my life, and I have been puzzling why his death has so affected me.
I think the answer—and the reason for writing about something so personal—goes to the heart of what it means to be a great teacher. By teacher, I am not referring primarily to classroom instructors, because learning in life occurs mainly outside of schools. I first encountered Ed in a lecture hall, but his greatness did not lie in giving good lectures (which he did). It lay instead in somehow transmitting life-changing lessons. If I had not known him, I would be a different person. He helped me become who I am and, more important, who I want to be.
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