‘‘Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’’ –Proverbs 22:6
‘‘I am indebted to my parent for living, but to my teacher for living well.’’ –Alexander the Great
EVERYMAN has a teacher and every great man has a great teacher. Zig Ziglar said, ‘a lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.’’ Frederick Douglas, the most important black American leader of the 19th century and a key figure in the abolition of slavery in the United States said, ‘‘it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.’’
Teachers are nation builders, teachers are the centre of education, and their contributions can never be overestimated. The United Nations declared October 5 of every year as teachers’ day all over the world. It is a unique day to celebrate a set of people that have invested their time, resources and skills into moulding and shaping lives all over the world. Teaching is hard work and it is poignant if it is further made tougher when teachers are ‘forced’ to work in environment that are not conducive to learning. ‘‘Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.’’ –Hain G. Ginott.
Parents must cultivate the habit of investing into their children’s teacher because it is an investment that will last them through life. On the long run, it cost less to invest in teachers. The greatest gift you can ever give to your children is the gift of someone that will nourish and inspire them to live a life of impact and purpose. A bad teacher is worse than a bad doctor because teachers affect eternity. ‘‘Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more.’’ –Bob Talbert.
Alexander the great was the king of Macedonia, a man considered to be an inspiration to later conquerors such as Roman Pompey, Julius Caesar and Napoleon. When Alexander was 13 years old, his father, King Philip II of Macedonia hired one of the greatest teachers of his time, the Greek Philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander’s personal tutor. Aristotle taught the young prince everything about art and science. Alexander was said to be seemingly invisible in battle and at the age 33, he was said to have conquered the whole world that there was nothing else to conquer. When the legendary warrior was asked the secret of his success, he dedicated it to the awesomeness of his teacher –Aristotle! ‘‘Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.’’ –Bob Talbert
One of the most inspirational and awesome stories of a teacher’s influence on a child is that of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Sullivan’s impact on Keller’s life was so revolutionary that she was given the nick name: MIRACLE WORKER! When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller was stricken with an acute illness that left her deaf and blind. In the 1880s, people who were both deaf and blind were classified in law as invalid.
Sullivan saw in the little Helen what was invisible to others; she could see latent potentials that were waiting to be unleased. Through patience, perseverance and passion for teaching, Anne was able to prove to the world that teachers are dealers in hope and that the most “sacred” responsibility of a teacher is ‘never to give up’ on a student. Anne couldn’t restore Helen’s sight but she was able to inspire her insight. Her legendary teacher taught her one of the greatest style of learning -looking within! Helen was taught the power of insight and the ‘magic’ of a navigated mind. Helen was blind to see the world around her but she met a teacher that revealed to her the world within– a world that is unlimited and unrestricted by sight. Prior to Sullivan, no one had been able to successfully teach a blind, deaf and mute child. Sullivan’s determination sets a remarkable standard for teachers. Despite Keller’s disabilities, Sullivan was able to see the abilities within, she refused to give up and became a worthy example for all teachers trying to reach difficult and challenging students. Helen Keller eventually became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelors of Arts degree in the world from the Radcliffe College in 1904.
The story of Michael Faraday and how he rose from being a janitor to a giant in the field of electrochemistry also justifies the fact that teachers are truly miracle workers. Faraday was a janitor in the laboratory of the Royal Institution in Great Britain under Sir Humphrey Davy. Humphrey saw in Faraday an ‘image’ that goes beyond an ordinary janitor. Sir Humphrey trained the man who later taught the world how to convert electricity into power and light. When Humphrey was asked what his greatest discovery was and despite having several inventions and patents to his credit; the great teacher said confidently, ‘’my greatest discovery is Michael Faraday!’’
‘‘The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to them their own.’’ –Benjamin Disraeli
I have realised the truth in my 10 years of teaching that the easiest way to make a teacher produce good results is simply to make them feel good about themselves. Ken Blanchard said, ‘‘People who feel good about themselves, produce good results.’’ We must redesign the Nigerian system to provide a conducive atmosphere for learning. Our reward system has become archaic and obsolete for the new Nigeria that we are craving for. This nation, it would seem, has been meticulously designed in such a way to reward people with no intellectual value. Our reward system has been flawed, seemingly fully designed to reward miscreants and touts that harass, more than intellectuals that solve problems. Thus redesigning has become imperative in the face of obvious degradation of our educational system. I am encouraging the government at every level to invest in teachers’ welfare and also create a conducive environment for learning. The quality of teachers is paramount to any nation that will go far in this 21st century.
Isaac Newton once said, ‘if I have seen further than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.’ I dedicate this piece to all the teachers all over the world and also to all the teachers that have ever taught me, the greatest being the Holy Spirit! Let us celebrate teachers today, call up your long time teachers, appreciate them, and encourage them with a special gift. Teachers matter! ‘‘We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.’’ –John F. Kennedy
Teaching is the noblest profession in the world and it is worth celebrating. Lee Iacocca, the former president of Ford Motors said, ‘in a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less.’’ I am encouraging teachers to see the teaching profession as an honourable calling, Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘‘nobody can make you inferior without your consent.’’ The teaching profession is not inferior to any other. There are many geniuses with brains; a teacher is a genius with a heart!
‘‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’’ –Henry Brooks Adams
Adebambo lives in Ibadan and is dean of schools at the Educational Advancement Centre (EAC), consultant in teacher training. Tel: +2348053139316, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Gbenga Adebambo