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James March’s Lessons on Teaching

Carnegie goes to California: Advancing and Celebrating the Work of James G. March

ISBN: 978-1-80043-979-5, eISBN: 978-1-80043-978-8

Publication date: 26 October 2021


James G. March taught his students how to combine rigor and playfulness. He saw scholarship as the interplay between harnessing crazy ideas; the technology of foolishness on one side, and the rigorous building and assessment of models which emulate the behaviors of individuals in organizations and of organizations as a whole on the other side. Therefore, a student should develop not only an ability to understand the world, by mastering technical analytical methods, but also an ability to appreciate it. In order to develop the latter, one should grasp that the underlying problems of management and leadership are indistinguishable from the fundamental problems of life, and that the novels, poems and plays of great literature are the best sources to examine these problems. Thus, James March’s teaching involved basic skills in statistics, the subtle art of building models, and the study of major pieces of great literature. According to James March, teaching is not primarily about spreading knowledge but is about raising faith in scholarship. Learning is not aimed at adapting to the world, but at developing a desire to change it for more truth, beauty and justice. Higher education is a vision, a vocation, not a rational choice. Teaching is a sacrament.



Weil, T. (2021), "James March’s Lessons on Teaching", Beckman, C.M. (Ed.) Carnegie goes to California: Advancing and Celebrating the Work of James G. March (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 76), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 233-243.



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