Except to please

Discussion in 'English Only' started by bloomcountry, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. bloomcountry

    bloomcountry Senior Member

    Malaga
    Russian, Spanish
    Does this phrase mean "with the aim of", in order to? Thanks:

    Therefore let all who teach discard this pride,
    That anything is learnt except to please;
    When fingers touch, or how love’s names are said,
    Like any lessons, change with time and place;

    (Kingsley Amis's "Lessons").
     
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    He's saying that teachers should throw away the idea that pupils learn things for the benefit of acquiring knowledge; they learn because they are forced to please the teacher by learning.

    So teachers should not take pride in the false idea that pupils learn for any other reason than to please the teacher - they (the teachers) should not think that anything is learnt except to please.

    The 'anything' is a touch misleading on first reading, because it's not preceded by a negative.
     
  3. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    Chicago
    English (American)
    It really means "for any other reason than to please."
     
  4. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I don't think "to please" has to mean "to please the teacher". It could just as well mean "to please others" or just "for pleasure".
     
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    If it meant 'for pleasure', the teachers wouldn't need to discard their pride.

    Amis is saying that the pupils don't learn things just for pleasure, though teachers delude themselves that they do, and are proud of the supposed fact that their teaching has instilled in their pupils a love of learning per se.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  6. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Since I don't know what the "therefore" refers to, I have to say the passage is ambiguous.
     
  7. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    The earlier stanzas of the poem make the meaning entirely clear, in my view: eg.

    The books once closed, the classroom blind run down,
    Who thinks of lessons now there is no need?
     

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