In terms of a “profession,” America’s future does not lie in the hands of presidents, politicians, lawyers, doctors, accountants, and other leaders. Her future lies in the hands of the professionals who will be teaching those who will become the future presidents, politicians, lawyers, doctors, accountants and other leaders, America’s Teachers.
A “Teacher” is “one who teaches,” a professional who has accepted the awesome challenge and responsibility of helping to prepare our children and grandchildren to fully realize their individual potential, create the desire to fulfill it, and equip them with the skills necessary to achieve it. It can truly be said that America’s destiny and future depends upon the realization and fulfillment of that potential.
Oh sure, there are those, professing to be teachers, who do the minimum and simply go through the motions. They could be characterized as those who perform the mechanical function of providing instruction from prepared lesson plans without a personal commitment to their students or accepting the responsibility and accountability for their results. They are teachers in title only.
The true “Teacher” has a personal commitment to their students. A commitment to not only teaching the necessary information and skills their students will need, but to make learning an experience they will want to continue for the rest of their lives. They fully realize and appreciate that “how” they do what they do is as important as “what” they do and dedicate their professional lives to equipping, helping, and motivating their students to recognize and reach their full potential.
To a large extent true “Teaching” is an art form. It requires the same type of dedication, commitment, and skill that a painter would use on a great canvas, a music composer on an opus, a lawyer on a jury, or an entertainer on an audience. What makes the successful musician, singer, comedian, painter, or author? Is it the mere application of “the mechanics” of what they are doing or their ability to communicate and relate what they are doing to their audience?
Even as the success of an artist is directly linked to their ability to relate what they are doing to their audience so too is the success of a Teacher, only more so. Although the professional entertainer wants and desires to reach every member of their audience, they can still be very successful if they reach a substantial majority of their audience.
A Teacher however, does not have that luxury. For them, success and failure is measured in the eyes, minds, and hearts of each individual student. The Master Teacher said it best. “If any man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?” He was not willing to lose even one.
The Teacher’s heart and spirit transcends mere “mechanics and basics” and goes to the concern and commitment of dedicating themselves to their students and their individual ability to effectively apply what is being taught. It is a task that, in a lot of cases, is made more difficult by influences outside of the Teacher’s direct control such as the physical or mental challenges of individual students, school funding issues, child abuse, and dysfunctional families to mention a few. Fortunately, for America and Her children, in spite of these additional challenges, there are those who feel a calling to become, in the truest sense of the word, “Teachers.”
Where then is the “nobleness” of Teaching? It is obvious that it is not based on factors such wealth, title, or power and yet, it is nobleness in the truest sense of the word. Nobleness based on the character, honor, generosity, dedication and commitment of those who are true Teachers and the quest they have chosen, preparing our children for the rest of their tomorrows. There’s not much that is more noble or important than that, not much at all.
Dedication: As another school year begins an Ole Seagull would republish his all-time favorite column and dedicate it to America’s teachers with thanks and appreciation. Godspeed.