When we yearn for understanding to whom do we seek? When the mysteries of life’s unknown confront our very minds, from where do the answers come? When the puzzles of everyday fragments the pattern of which direction we should search, who is it that brings the pieces together? Of course it’s a teacher, someone who has received his gift from God, and through faith always seems to be able to unravel mystery through wisdom, gained from experience and knowledge learned from another teacher.
Of all the gifts that God uses to enrich the minds of His creatures, He has blessed and called forth men and women with fortitude and skills to reach beyond the cranium of people seeking to learn. There is something in the way a teacher instructs that goes beyond just opening a book. They also open the cells of young minds in a manner that not many are able to perform. It can be called by names not yet perceived, but by some deep grace bringing scientists, doctors, and more teachers out of docile minds into the open world of imagination and exploring intellect.
However, there are some who with the gift of teaching turn their vocations into a self-enriching position by overlooking the talents of students because of prejudices. One young student, who lives in my building, needed a ride to his high school for a concert. He is a drummer and specializes in percussion instruments. The story he related to me got my dander up when he said, “my teacher always puts me down in front of the other students and at the same time exults another student musician saying “you’re so much better than this kid”. My judgment is not to determine who is the better student, but when a teacher belittles another student in front of others, he not only is completely wrong, but what emotional, and psychological harm is he planting in this child, who is there to learn and not promote the teachers ego as a good music teacher. Surely it wasn’t because this young boy is from Taiwan?
I have spent a great number of years as an instructor in electrical technology at trade schools as well as being a Master Catechist for several years in the Pittsburgh Diocese. One thing I quickly learned is if even one student is having difficulty learning a lesson, the most astute thing is to find a way to get through to that student at his/her pace of learning. But, never should a teacher discourage any one under their charge by insults or even worse bringing the student’s learning ability before the others. Doing that shows one great flaw as a teacher; they forgot the reason they chose this profession.
“Teachers, gold for the future”, is my idea of working with or without pay in order to bring the hidden mysteries of the universe, the world we live in, our neighborhood and family, and open up to them a kaleidoscope of things never before dreamt. When those of us who teach can accomplish that, we can then hold our heads high and say, “I have taken the torch given me by the Holy Spirit and handed it on to those I have sent forth”.
That is a teacher, gold in the hands of God, a purveyor of good news, and one to whom those students will always remember as someone who cared.
Ralph B. Hathaway December 2018