BACK TO SCHOOL
“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein
It is back to school time. Educators everywhere are gearing up with the stressors of how to do the best they can to help shape the generations of tomorrow. While teachers are the favourite whipping post of many a politician and armchair pundit who in his own mind always knows more about pedagogy than anyone, they are in reality among the most valued vocations in our society. Our greatest resource in this country is our people and our giftedness. We have generations that are yet to come who need to be the leaders of tomorrow. We entrust those great resources to our teachers. The irony is that those who cry the loudest about teachers are those who would be least competent to take on that responsibility. Can you imagine entrusting some of our blowhard politicians with teaching our children? Take ten minutes sometime and listen to the House of Commons or your Provincial Legislature in session (when they are in session – they are off work more than on and they are the first to bring up a teacher’s summer off. To date in 2008 our Federal politicians have been in session only 15 weeks out of 33 weeks. I think If I read it tight our MLAs in Ontario have met for 16 weeks). Listen to the so called debates they have with each other. The house is usually reduced to name calling and yelling. While one member speaks the others howl and groan and refuse to listen. I sometimes wonder if whose we elect are the cream of any crop, the best of any class. Can you imagine any classroom in such a state? If these same politicians looked into a school and saw such complete disrespect and rude behaviour, what would they say? The bizarre part of all this is that there may be the one teacher on every staff that may not pull all the load; Who is done at 3:30 PM and never does more than he/she needs to. I believe that to be the exception and not the rule. The politicians are quite another story. They are mostly a bunch of windbags who do well on taxpayer dollars. There is the execption to the rule. There are those who work well past being in session and who give their constituents all the time they need. I think our politicians could learn a thing or two about an honest days work from our teachers.
I believe in our teachers. I believe that they work hard and they bring the best of themselves to their vocations. I believe that despite the fact that they take unnecessary abuse, sometimes from ill-advised politicians, sometimes from parents and sometimes from students, they continue to hold up the ideal that every child deserves that set of conditions that Einstein spoke of, that would provide the best opportunity to learn. I believe that our teachers want to make a difference. I know from watching our young people grow, that they are indeed making a difference.
If there is any hope for us as a people in the decades ahead of us, it will be because a teacher planted hope in the mind of tomorrow’s leaders. If there are big things for us in the decades ahead of us it will be because a teacher dared tomorrow’s leader to dream. Dan Rather wrote that, “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." I believe that to be very true. I think that if each of us were to think of who influenced us as children we can all remember at least one special teacher. I am who I am today because many teachers believed in me. Amanda Dibbs one of our wardens at St. Mark’s sent a link to this video which for anyone who is and educator has to be an inspiration. This is the leadership of tomorrow. This is a boy who has had a teacher or two believe in him! Listen as this young man speaks to an arena full of teachers and I think we all gain insight into what motivates people to teach.
I have been praying for our teachers as they return to the schools. I stumbled upon this prayer from the UCC and I encourage you to use it over these next days and weeks as our Teachers, Principals and Students get reacclimatized to school.
A Prayer for Teachers
God of Love
Thank you for every teacher who notices a child’s special gift.
Thank you for teachers who are listeners and gentle guides.
Thank you for teachers who expect much and love enough to demand more.
Thank you for the special teacher each one of us remembers.
God of Mercy
Sustain teachers who give everything they have and feel abandoned
when society expects too much.
Strengthen teachers who assume the blame
for so many problems beyond their control.
Help exhausted teachers rest.
God of Strength
Encourage teachers to care and inspire them to nourish.
Motivate teachers to keep on learning for the fun of it
and to make learning fun for children.
We wonder at teachers who know how
to quiet a class of five-year-olds or
help fourth grade girls be empathetic.
We admire teachers who enjoy middle school writers,
or teach physics or math or civics.
We cannot even imagine how to help
every single student achieve Adequate Yearly Progress.
Bless the people who are expected to accomplish these miracles
and who know how to comfort children when miracles do not happen.
God of Justice
help our nation find a way to steward our vast wealth
to support teachers in their special calling,
wherever they teach and whatever the race or religion
or gender or wealth of the children.
We pray these things in the name of our great teacher, Jesus Christ. Amen.