College education is a proliferation of such possibilities: the beauty of mathematical discovery, the thrill of scientific understanding, the fascination of historical narrative, the mystery of theological speculation. We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students’ souls.
For me, it nicely sums up my own perspective on teaching a discipline like anthropology. While some students may in the future find some specific application of a bit of knowledge or a methodological approach, largely, the specific content of what I teach won't stick with them in ten years (in five, they'll still remember it all, I'm sure). What I want them to "get," is that the world is a complicated, terrible, wonderful and very fascinating place. And, that they should continue thinking about that world with depth and a critical perspective.