It is a very common practice for people to debate on what’s our future will look alike, and what are the crucial areas that especially need our attention. For me, there are two areas that I consider to be the pillars of every society and are especially important for our near future development – agriculture and education. I find that almost anyone can be a farmer because it’s in our genes and it’s what our distant ancestors mainly did. But not anyone can be a teacher because that role requires some subtle qualifications.
Erin Gruwell or Mohanji
Personally, I find two types of teachers: those who nowadays are involved in the formal or informal education (yet as part of the system) and those who teach beyond that formal role. The second refer to every person that showed up in our life and helped us to acquire knowledge, get experience, and learn important life lessons. This role goes further and covers the aspects of life that are usually not part of our formal education. So the story, in that case, can lead to some of the greatest names in our human history – Jesus Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius etc. (observed outside of the spiritual traditions and for their impact and influence on human history)
However, related to the question of sustainability I think that the first kind of teachers is one who deserves my attention in this article. I believe that their role nowadays is crucial. And after all what they do always points to something more than just sharing knowledge and helping students to learn the specific topic and become competent.
I will not go into deeper analysis about the role of future teachers and its relation with the ongoing educational system. I will just try to describe what I think teachers should aspire to become, what are the individual qualities that modern teachers must have, that I think are universal and timeless.
Teachers build every nation’s future and its success and prosperity. What they instill in our children as knowledge and skills give the foundation of every future profession. But on that way along teacher face many obstacles mostly of administrative nature. The constant changes in the system, the new standards or methodology requires such responsibility to adapt and apply and yet not lose your mind. It takes a lot of patience to remain calm working under such bureaucratic pressure.
It’s very challenging to be a teacher in this era of constant demand for creativity and innovation. So it seems that their role is also changing and teacher are becoming leaders who get back control over education and decide what important and valued.
One thing is sure you cannot do this job without passion and commitment. From the first till the very last day this is job is lively and in one sense unpredictable.
“Children’s minds, like a sheet of white paper, are susceptible to every impression” – Godwin, William (1756-1836).
Learning ‘good morality’ depends on this fact because whatever is written on these pages will last a long period and it takes a lot of effort to erase it. There is another saying that says: “You cannot straight a tree that is planted crooked”. Well if the tree is thinner and smaller maybe you can fix it, but if a long time has passed and the tree big with wider trunk than you can hardly do anything.
It’s a funny thing that while (doctors supposed to save lives) teachers suppose to shape lives and do such an important job, still you’ll not find any public notice in the media when some teacher retires. Maybe if he/she is already famous. But there so many teachers who deserve to get public admiration and acknowledgment for life lived with nobility. Instead, they are often blamed for the problems that appear in the educational system. Pointing fingers become such terrible habit. Despite that nonsense they still find a way to be nice, devoted and dedicated, to continue teaching with grace and love.
From time to time we hear about a certain award for the best teacher of the year somewhere in the world. 2017 winner of $ 1 M Global Teacher Prize is Maggie Macdonnell. She is an example of what I’m trying to say about how the role of nowadays teachers has changed. Maggie was inspired and motivated by the change of the attitude of Canadian government regarding the years of abuse over the Canadian Indigenous people. She decided to live and teach in small Inuit village in the Canadian Arctic.
What she did for those teens in that small area known for so much ongoing and deeply rooted troubles goes beyond the formal educational frame that administration and set up standards require.
It’s really impressive what she’s done in the last 6 years, as a teacher as activist as project coordinator, as a lobbyist, a genuine fighter.
She succeeded in turning student’s mindset from only seeing problems and no exit to finding solutions and possibilities. Maggie directly influenced in creating different useful life skills programs. She is always constantly motivating teens into participating in community help activities, changing their eating habits, increasing their physical sports activities, providing them conditions for experiencing what daycare workers actually do and by that awaking in her students some noble qualities.
There is no doubt that students will remember her. And that is one of the many teachers’ qualities. They act in a way that their students will never forget what they learned and who taught them.
The good objective Socrates
If on one hand, teachers have one of the most difficult tasks – to shape and build a small and fragile person into independent mature individual, on the other hand, they face the challenge to remain objective and resist the pressure that comes from one’s political, religious, ethnic background.
Socrates was very famous among young people of Athens. His method was different – he wanted to help every individual to understand its unique position in this world, reach the answers he is seeking by himself, understand what is good, what is knowledge, etc. Socrates was in one sense beyond the society’s criteria and living standards and stuck to his principals. He lived what he talked about, what he believes in. He set a very high standard of how the teacher should approach students.
I think teachers should be apolitical, although this is hard to imagine nowadays. You are republican or democrat; you are demochristian or liberal etc. And we see how our children are already infected when entering school, occupied by things they do not understand and already have objects of hate in their hearts with no reason. How to fight this new age disease?
It seems that we always miss that lesson. The wise man respects and accepts all the differences. So teachers should aim to become wise, but also should every single one of us. Teachers are here to prepare us, help us to understand and experience life in its immense complexity.
Old traditions teach about recognizing what is good and what is evil and how to use your free will, your freedom of choice and narrow your energy and passion towards creativity and creation instead of destruction and degradation. Today (mostly unwillingly) we damage our kids even before taking them to school with unhealthy habits, consumerism, and ego-centrism. I know we don’t want to, we struggle our own demons. But what do you expect teachers to do with such “material”?
Teachers are not here to shape our kids into something that we want them to be, what we want our kids to achieve. Schools are not here so that we can fulfill our unfulfilled dreams through our children. They are here to fight ignorance – our greatest enemy, our eternal enemy.
I better stop here, writing about this make me sad and angry. Things are so simple and I hate catching myself trying to explain something that it’s supposed to be so obvious, but it’s not.