This I Believe
I believe that if you are going to be a teacher you must spend the rest of your life trying to learn.
This May I will retire after thirty-five years of teaching in a small community college.
My college ranks in the low minors of academia. Not AAA or even AA, but A. But it is a solid A franchise. It gives people opportunity, people who might not otherwise have the opportunity, to go to college. Opportunity is a good thing.
I have probably had a total of well over 11,000 students in my classes over the years. Now… an interesting question would be, have any of these students learned anything.
I don’t know and I don’t particularly care.
Because I believe in the Buddhist philosophy that one can learn from anything, if only you have an open mind.
So, according to that theorem, they could have learned something if they had tried.
But more important to me than whether my students learned anything is…did I learn anything?
Well, I tried. I tried to keep an open mind and I tried to learn.
Jack Kerouac wrote, in On the Road, “Old Bull Lee was a teacher, and he had every right to teach, because he had spent all his life trying to learn.”
Of course now we know that Old Bull Lee was actually William Burroughs. Kerouac thought that Burroughs had every right to teach because he had continued to learn. And that is what I tried to do. I wanted to be sure I earned my right to teach by always trying to learn.
We have a nice library at my school and, whether my students did or not, I made use of it. I checked out books and if they did not have a particular book I wanted, the staff was more than happy to find it for me in another library.
So I read books and I tried to learn and I certainly intend to keep trying to learn as long as I can. I’m not going to teach any more. I’m teached- out, taught-out, lectured-out, tested-out, graded-out, committee –ed out, bummed out and burned out. I ain’t gonna teach no more!
I’m going to move way out, off the grid, hopefully to a place so remote that the po-lice and the tax man will miss me, but I still intend to keep my mind, or what little I have left of it, open and I still intend to try to learn.
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