Posted by hhh4u
Like this blog, the theme of education and what it means “to be educated” is strongly present in my book Kingdom of the Sun (to be published soon). The love of teaching is of course significant in that one should, or as some would say, love what they do. In order to be successfully and truly influential as a teacher and educator, I do believe that one has to have a love and connection for what they are doing. However, I would like to discuss the love of teaching as it pertains to receiving it. My thoughts and words are not only based on my past experiences of being a student, but on my most recent experiences of witnessing this love through the eyes of a volunteer ESL teacher.
For a short time, I was an ESL teacher to a group of 30+ adult immigrants and refugees from all over the world. Before I was to actually teach them, I had stopped in two days prior to observe the class and meet the teacher that I would be subbing for. On that day, I had spent some time alone with them for about half an hour before their teacher arrived, and as soon as I stepped in the classroom, I immediately noticed an energy and atmosphere that was different than anything I had ever experienced.
These students had joy, radiance, excitement, and most of all, they had respect, admiration, and gratitude. All of them. I was simply an observer that day, but it was not long before I was called something that I didn’t quite expect or see myself, something that Christ Himself was called: “Teacher.” And so, it was no surprise that my heart actually fluttered, and a form of love that I did not anticipate was conceived. I found that love growing each time they smiled wide and their eyes lit up when they saw me. I found it growing when they thanked me when they understood something, when they thanked me at the end of the day, and when they thanked as they placed their hands over their hearts.
I constantly found myself comparing these students and their behavior to students that I was surrounded with in the past. There were of course those who had respect and gratitude, but this was mostly not the case, especially for substitutes. I thought about those substitutes and educators whose first days and experiences of teaching were not as joyful as mine. I thought of them and thanked God for being truly blessed.
Once this experience was over, I then thought about how what I was doing for these students was no different than what my teachers and professors of the past did for me. But why was the reception so different? As I’m sure you can imagine, these ESL students are in this new place, virtually new world, and are dependent on the teacher for guidance and support to ultimately survive and prosper in their new lives (and for many of them, it was the first education they had received). Yet, this was mostly the same for me when I was a student. So, what is the underlying difference here? Well, I think this answer lies in just one of the main issues with education today. There is a poem written by a high school student that discusses how he sits in class all day, bored and pretending to be interested when all he wants is to learn something that can better himself and his life, something that he cares about.
The poem can be found here: High School
What if the education system was less about numbers and placement standings, and more about giving students what they want and need? What if we were to listen to these students and their needs, and help them follow their own path? Would we see changes in behavior as well as joy and passion in our students? My experience as a teacher has strengthened the fire in me to teach and inspire through my words because with them I hold the power to change hearts, minds, and the world.
Peace and Love,