Josef Pieper on True Teaching

“Teaching in the real sense takes place only when the hearer is reached–not by dint of some personal magnetism or verbal magic, but rather, when the truth of what is said reaches the hearer as truth. Real teaching takes place only when its ultimate result–which must be intended from the start–is achieved: when the hearer is ‘taught.’ And being taught is something else again from being carried away, and something else again from being dominated by another’s intellect. Being taught means to perceive that what the teacher has said is true and valid, and to perceive why this is so. Teaching therefore presupposes that the hearer is sought out where he is to be found.

Thus teaching implies proceeding from the existing position and disposition of the hearer. Nor can that position be determined abstractly in advance, or fixed once and for all; it must be located in its own historical context, determined concretely for what it is. The hearer’s counterarguments must be taken seriously and the elements of truth in them recognized–for aside from the products of feeblemindedness or intellectual gamesmanship, there are no entirely false opinions. The teacher, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the hearer to the fuller and purer truth as he, the teacher, understands it”

~ Josef Pieper, Guide to Thomas Aquinas, 32-33