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Thursday, October 26, 2006

One more reason to care



It is easy to fell overwhelmed and unimportant. It is easy to say, "that's not my problem" or "that's not my student" or "that's none of my business" when we see problems. But it has dire consequences.

For anyone who entertains the thought of being indifferent about the importance of educating our youth, tell them this story.

You see, the very nature of things can be disturbed by cold indifference. On March 29, 1948, everyone living within earshot of Niagara Falls squinted into the winter sunshine as they craned their necks to hear .... nothing.

Nothing, because heavy winds had pushed the ice fields of Lake Erie to block the entrance of the Niagara River near Buffalo, NY. The river had stopped. Against the natural order and every law of nature, icy, cold obstacles stopped the natural order of things.

It resumed only when the ice shifted.


I would challenge you to consider that many of our educational problems stem from cold indifference. Indifference of some who would rather filter out everything instead of working with teachers to unblock certain sites in an ad hoc manner. Indifference of those who would rather force schools to conform to their knowledge base than to learn something new. Indifference of those who think that yesterday's success in the classroom will also be the savior of tomorrow. Indifference of those who just want to get a paycheck and would rather play Solitaire. Indifference of people who would rather throw money at problems than their lives.

Educating children and teens requires passion.
I believe that a good teacher has one thing undergirding everything in their classroom... an honest, genuine love for their students. Because students see frigid indifference and they tune it out. They see enough frigidity in this tough, cold world.

What they want to see are warm bodies with open arms who will push them to excellence beyond what they realize that they can do. Teachers and administrators who will push their own envelope of knowledge before they ask students to do the same. Teachers who don't just "bide their time," call in sick to staff development, and complain.
I'm sorry, folks, but if somebody invited me to a pity party ... I'd skip.
No one wants to be around the hopeless, indifferent frigidity of a person who has given up the dream of making a difference!

Educating is truly the greatest calling on earth.
Instead of just putting money in the bank, you are carving meaning into the lives of students and leaving a mark on your own soul. If you truly love your students. If you truly give them all you have and come home at the end of the day used up on your quota of words and wondering how you will even move from one room to the next. If you teach with all you have and all you are. If you care so much that you lay awake at night thinking and praying about how to reach that one student who is not just getting it...

then you have achieved greatness.

You, my friend, are great because you have poured out your one life and multiplied all of the love and passion you have into hundreds and thousands of other lives.

Sadly, I had a student transfer in this year. I asked him who his teachers were last year.. he couldn't tell me their names. He said that was "OK, because none of them knew his name anyway."

This profession is about caring. It is about doing the impossible and reaching the remote.

It is about striking that rock of knowledge against the flint of an unlit psyche so many times and with such persistence that sparks emerge and catch fire the flame of the quest for knowledge that will never be extinguished.

We must always want to be better. We must be willing to put up with being misunderstood, underappreciated, and underpaid. For, what we do, if we truly care, we would do without compensation.

Teaching is a noble profession, the most noble in my opinion. I've never felt so rewarded and so full of meaning in my life. My river will never stop because of indifference.

What about you?


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