– This I Believe —
Some say those that can’t, teach. Some say teaching is the most important job in the world. If we were all doctors, who would teach them? Where would the chef learn to read the recipe and measure? Who would encourage the lawyer to speak up confidently and make eye contact with all twelve members of the jury? How does the mechanic know the difference between metric and regular?
Who are those about whom they say ‘can’t’?
There is one who loves music with his entire being and plays fourteen instruments well but cannot find time to compose a symphony nor will he ever play at the Chicago Symphony. But every day he brings his passion into a building full of teens and magic happens as disarray rings harmonious.
From even before school began she found wonder in numbers and how they combine to make the world sensible and orderly. Unfortunately, those higher order concepts never quite became comfortable enough to occupy a professorial chair at the university, but soon-to-be carpenters, mechanics, biologists, and engineers experience no fear as she clarifies calculus concepts that hold the perfect beauty of a butterfly’s wing.
There is another who sings with joy and boundless energy but just not quite well enough to make a living at it. At our school, twenty-first century farm kids understand the intricacies of a fifteenth century Madrigal as well as Forties jive steps for Jazz Chorus.
Another can be excused for her silent frustration because the counselor sends her the ones for whom she does not have any other place. 2-D Art, photography, graphic design. Many of those who have few advanced level class choices will have little true beauty in their lives, but she has made certain they will be able to recognize it when it does drop by for a visit.
When I walk by a science class and hear laughter, there just has to be something good going on. From giggles to guffaws, they grin at the jokes she makes at her own expense because she wants them to be enthralled by physics as much as she always has.
I want to write, mean to write, but correct their writing instead – papers by the hundreds. I share my passion and knowledge and sometimes weep at the pathos, shiver at the beauty or giggle at the lame humor. Finally, on graduation day I am confident that each of them will be able to communicate at whatever they choose to pursue as their life work.
The people I work with do not teach because they cannot do anything else; they teach because they cannot imagine doing anything else. They are committed to young people. Doctors, lawyers, mechanics, chefs, and all the rest believe what they do is important; that is what gets everyone up every morning. But I truly believe that what I do is the most important job. As long as we are doing it as well as we possibly can, the thousands of lives positively affected by a good teacher cannot be compared to the good done by any other profession or job. We are the carpenters of society. Without us, it all falls apart.
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