"We humanists have all of us a pedagogic itch. Humanism and schoolmasters – there is a historical connexion between them, and it rests upon psychological fact: the office of schoolmaster should not – cannot – be taken from the humanist, for the tradition of the beauty and dignity of man rest in his hands."
Even allowing for the (charmingly) pompous nature of Settembrini's dialogue, I have to say I recognise this... I'm not a teacher, but lifelong learning is my passion. I'm not directly involved in it these days, but I can't stop myself from engaging people and trying to encourage them into some form of learning, formal or informal.
I also like this quote because Mann/Settembrini follows it up with some rude remarks about religious types, but to post that too would be pandering to my particular prejudices, so I shall refrain. If you're interested, go and read it yourself.
You see, I'm at it again...
Settembrini reminds me strongly of someone I knew many years ago when I was doing my librarianship degree. I was initially entranced by him because he just seemed to know so much and to have such wide experiences. But, gradually, I began to think I was hearing the same narrow range of experiences repackaged over and over, and started to think he was pompous and a bit shallow. It wasn't until too late that I realised it was me who was pompous and shallow, and not Chris. But that's how you learn in life, I suppose. I'd hate to be that 21 year old again.