Teachers, like most other professionals, must go through several years of college and pass various certifications in order to stand before a group of students. Like most other professionals, teachers must deal with the countless red tape and bureaucratic aspects of any organization, but more so because often those under their tutelage are under age. As is the case with any organization, schools conform to a set of preordained requirements that dictate the manner in which said students must be taught, or what they are taught. It is in this realm of restrictions, swimming through strong tides and swells, that teachers must perform a variety of different tasks. They are instructors of new knowledge, scaffolding new learning from previous acquisitions, and must instruct with skill and tact. They must know what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach. At other times, they must also recognize when NOT to teach. It is a gargantuan task for anyone, in particular for those who actually care for those with whom they engage in learning with.
So, what do teachers teach? Outside of the obvious answer—they teach students the skills and knowledge needed to have a broad base of understanding and learning students can apply to further their own cognitive abilities and become citizens of the world, duh—teachers teach people how to BE human. In a nutshell, there are various types of teachers. You have those whose sole purpose is to teach, but without connection. Those are the teachers whose classes you attend, you learn from, and you quickly forget as soon as you are no longer in class. Then you have another category of teacher whose sole purpose is to inflict some kind of harm—as though seeking their own retribution from ills they suffered at the hands of other bitter or mean people—and conduct class in a manner in which NO ONE would, or could, succeed. It is these teachers we remember all so vividly because of their qualities of a despot (and I’ve had my share of those). These teachers, the despots, are not real teachers. They are tyrants and have no positive impact at all, other than those who then, having suffered through their tyrannical actions, vow to be upstanding and kind. Then, you have another category. This category, which numbers three by my count, but not in any way last, is the category of teacher that stays with us through thick and thin and leaves a mark on our souls. These are the teachers who infect us with the LOVE of learning, leave our learning crystalized in our beings, and push us to be the best we can be. It is these teachers that teach, unlike all others by degree, that we are human first. It is these teachers, who fill not enough of our halls of academia, who leave a mark on our humanities and teach us far more than the basic academic knowledge and skills we must have to thrive in school through graduation. We should all be blessed with these teachers, but the sad fact is that they number few in our society. These teachers
we should cherish and keep fast to. It is they who teach what teachers SHOULD teach.
So, what do teachers teach? A teacher is a person who thinks in grand pictures. S/he sees the parts of a whole, but celebrates each detail. This person sees a problem as a challenge for learning and opportunity for growth. A person who can see beyond flaws and discover gems is a teacher in my mind. It is they for whom I have become better. And the best teacher can only be best through their own connection to their humanity. In this journey, teachers are the epitome of a human being. They are noble representatives of the human race whose job entails curing the soul of ills. If a teacher does not teach, what learning can we expect to receive from life without a guide? In my life, teachers whose love for us abounded were the guiding lights that saved me from damnation. For them, I will always be grateful to God. It is His mercy to us to be gifted such human beings. I hope that in my being a teacher, I fall not into category one or two, but three.