If you feel a deep sense of satisfaction each time you enlighten someone, whether young or old, and if you go out of your way to find new ways to encourage learning, then you’re a natural Teacher. When Maria Montessori took charge of educating the children in a housing project in Rome in 1906, the classroom she was given contained a desk, a blackboard, chairs, a table and a locked supply closet. Within no time, she replaced the heavy chairs with little ones that children could drag around and she installed supply shelves within reach of little hands. Montessori knew what all great Teachers know—that their job is to entice students as much as instruct them.
Dr. Benjamin Spock’s classroom was his office and he taught parents that the most important thing to know about raising children was to trust their own instincts. Kahlil Gibran describes a good Teacher like this: “If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”
Sometimes the urge to teach and inspire takes on political aspects. Wendy Kopp, for instance, who proposed the creation of “Teach for America” in her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989 and has been championing that cause ever since, has changed the way our culture thinks of teaching. Erin Gruwell wrote The Freedom Writers Diary based on her extraordinary work at a public school in California that changed the lives of her struggling students through the telling of their personal stories.
Laura Bush, Jill Biden, Julia Child, Sting, Alexander Graham Bell
Confident as they are curious, archetypal Teachers are excellent listeners who are also willing to admit when they don’t know something. Seldom shy or at a loss for words, many succeed at teaching because they are charismatic.
Even great Teachers can become pedantic at times, and because they thrive at the task of improving the mind, they can sometimes be critical when time isn’t being used productively.
Learning, reading, young people, communications, and psychology
- Symposium by Plato
- Democracy and Education by John Dewey
- Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner
- Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
- The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter
“Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.” -Aristotle
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