How does Bennett present different teaching styles in 'The History Boys'?

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How does Bennett present different teaching styles in The History Boys?

Bennett presents three contrasting teaching styles in the History Boys through the characters of Hector, Mrs Lintott, and Irwin. All three of the characters have their own unique attitude towards the boys’ impending Oxbridge examinations, putting the boys in the difficult position of having to keep a reasonable balance between teaching and learning styles whilst making every effort to maintain the good-humoured relationships they have with each of their teachers, as well as striving to achieve well in their examinations.

Whilst Hector brands the boys’ Oxbridge aspirations as ‘silliness’, he has a dedication and love for knowledge which he imparts during his lessons, and generally, to his students. While on the subject of General Studies, he quotes ‘All knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use’, which encapsulates, in one phrase, how highly he values any kind of knowledge as well as how he tries to teach the boys. It shows that Hector sees knowledge as precious- he has an unconventional kind of teaching style which he sees as vital to the boys’ education of life in general, and of particular importance is that the boys are aware of this. As Timms says, ‘Mr. Hector’s stuff’s not meant for the exam, sir. It’s to make us more rounded human beings.’ when the boys are questioned by Irwin on Hector’s teaching style. Furthermore, Hector believes in giving the boys the ability to defy the education they have been given- ‘You give them an education. I give them the wherewithal to resist it’ he says, in conversation with factual Mrs. Lintott. Hector’s teaching style is lively and compassionate, teaching the boys to love what they do.

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In contrast, Irwin, who is hired to prepare the boys for their exams, is totally centered on exam techniques. When reflecting on the essays he has just marked, he remarks that the other boys and girls who ‘have been to Rome and Venice, Florence and Perugia’ will ‘know when they come to do an essay like this on the Church on the eve of the Reformation that some silly nonsense on the foreskins of Christ will come in handy.’ And doing so he advises the boys to make their essays controversial so they stand out, regardless of what is true ...

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