Tolkien Gateway

Letter 314

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 314
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date15 December 1969
Subject(s)The sorry state of students

Letter 314 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien was in favour of the "dull stodges" - he had once experienced England's apparently dullest and stodgiest students: Yorkshire's young men and women of sub-public school class, of homeless backgrounds bookless and cultureless. It did not indicate actual innate mental capacity of any individual for a surprisingly large proportion proved "educable". The primary qualification was willingness to do some work to learn at any level of intelligence. Teaching, Tolkien declared, was a most exhausting task.

However, Tolkien would rather work on removing the "dull" from the "stodges" than waste effort on those of apparently higher intelligence that had been corrupted, disintegrated by school, and the climate of present days (and drugs). Teaching is not the instrument for their rehabilitation. Better one stubby little root that may eventually produce some seed than a large pink root rotten with carrot fly.