The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.
-Alice Wellington Rollins
Thanks to all teachers who inspired me to think and question. As an educator I tried to help students know the importance of asking questions. No question was ever diminished to be silly or dumb.
It is more important now than ever that youngsters know how to read and question. Skills like differentiating between fact and opinion are pivotal to gaining knowledge. Proposing the right question can lead to good research and to the development of ideas and concepts.
If you had a teacher who made you think and helped you be an active learner then please send her a note of thanks. They were the teachers who set you up for life.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded”
Thirty years ago I had the privilege of sending off an extraordinary 8th grade graduating class to high school. I used this quote by Emerson as an opening to my farewell speech. At the end of the ceremony, I was approached by some students who told me they would not forget me. Well, I did not believe them at the time. Recently, destiny has allowed me to bump into a few of them who recognized me right away. I must confess, I had to look deep to try to see the faces of those 12 and 13 year olds to recognize them. One of them, recited the quote and said, “Remember me, I never forgot what you said at graduation and I often think about you.” Then the memory lightbulb sparked; this was the student that told me he would never forget me. I became very emotional. Now that I am retired I think about many of my students. I remember the bright ones of course but I also wonder about the ones that struggled the most.
The new school year will begin soon. I could not believe it when he told me his daughter would start college this year. The best thing was when he told me he had written Emerson’s quote on an index card and slipped it into his daughter’s wallet to remind her about what it means to succeed. He thanked me for the inspiration and said, “You have succeeded.”
I want to wish all new teachers who will start their journey as educators of young people a wonderful and fruitful school year. Hopefully one day a student will walk up to you and express the sentiment my student did when you most needed to hear it.
The image is a small watercolor I painted a few weeks ago in honor of St. Patrick‘s Day. The message is simple but profound at the same time. I have a passion for teaching. Many of the wonderful ideas I have learned and the creative opportunities I have had, have been taught to me by a passionate teacher. Paolo Freire believed that a nation could become literate if everyone who knew how to read would teach someone else to read. All it is, is passion. Teach someone something that you love to do, then as a result, you pass on the skill and the love of whatever that teaching is for eternity.
I hope you like the image and I hope you go ahead and “teach someone something you love.”
Here are some quotes to ponder from the writings of Paolo Freire:
“We offer a model of learning which is not dry and academic but is based upon sharing our experience and using the ‘social knowledge’ that we all have. In this model of learning we can all become both co-learners and co-teachers.”
“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
“Reading is not walking on the words; it’s grasping the soul of them.”