Genius, pt. XVII

Still in Vienna for “The Geography of Genius,” Eric Weiner learned something about the role of the audience to Mozart and Haydn and Vienna’s other geniuses’ genius, which reminded me of my job as an English teacher at the cram school: “The audiences of that time [Vienna’s first golden age]…were not mere spectators. They egged on their musicians, pushing them to ever greater heights.”

The author discovered that “an audience, a good audience, is a sort of co-genius. They disapprove and the genius improves. When the musician gets it ‘right,’ nothing is sweeter than the heartfelt applause of a discerning audience.”

I’m not a genius but I’d like to think that I am the audience of my students. Because I only meet my students for an hour once a week, I feel like I’m less a person who gives them more knowledge than a person who helps make them realize how they can improve in and outside the classroom.

I also like to think that when I disapprove (which is especially true for my advanced students), my students find ways to become better instead of to feel sorry or bad for themselves. But when they do get it right, (I think) I love to applaud them for a job well done.