teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action,
single good poem, accomplishes more than he or she
who fills our memory with rows
on rows of natural objects,
classified with name and form.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
a shame that most teachers I know have forgotten this
concept. It usually isn't their fault--they become
involved in schools or school systems that value
numbers. Test scores, attendance figures, grades and
grade averages--these have become the important indicators
of whether a teacher is effective or not. Whenever the
system becomes more important than the individual, then
aren't nearly as able to look at their students as human
beings--thinking, caring, feeling human beings--as they
should be. They have to spend so much time on lesson
plans and changing curricula and grading and classroom
management that they often aren't able to focus on being a
human being who teaches other human beings. In
addition, "arousing feelings" isn't a concept
that's all that valued, for feelings aren't
quantifiable. Besides, learning about facts and
figures and information is valuable; it's just that its
value is overrated.
that said, we know that the teachers tend to do the best job
they can in their situations, and most of them try very hard
to be valuable influences in the lives of their
students. But we can help them. Not all teaching
takes place in the classroom, and not all teachers are hired
by schools to teach entire classrooms full of students.
definitely have the ability to be teachers ourselves.
We may not be qualified to teach algebra, but we certainly
can read a poem to a child (or even a friend!) and discuss
what it might mean to us. We can go through a book on
animals, looking at amazing pictures, learning ourselves by
reading captions as we "teach" someone else.
We can listen carefully as someone explains his or her
ideas, helping that person to clarify those ideas.
There are many, many "teaching moments" in every
day, and if we keep our eyes and ears open, we can recognize
them and use them for all that they're worth. And the
more we do it, the more we learn ourselves, and the better
we get at it.
important lessons in life rarely happen in a
classroom. But if we step back and think that we can't
teach because we're not "teachers," then we lose
many opportunities to do many wonderful things. And if
we don't teach because we assume that someone else will,
then everyone loses.
Questions to ponder:
1. What have been some of the most
important lessons that you've learned?
Where have they taken place?
2. What are you really good at, and
how could you pass along your knowledge and passion for the topic?
3. What do you think is the most
important lesson anyone could learn in order to put them on track to live a happy, fulfilling
Is this lesson taught in schools?
For further thought:
education should educate us out of self
into something far finer--
into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.
be of value to men and women both as private individuals
and as free,
self-reliant, and responsible members of the community to which they
belong. It should help them, as individuals, to grow in self-
and personal depth, to develop wider and deeper appreciations, to acquire an enthusiasm for hard work, to love good talk and good books,
in the adventures of intellectual curiosity, to become fair-minded, open-minded, and generous in all their human responses.
Association of Colleges