We’ve all had favorite teachers in our pasts. What was it about them that made them memorable? Probably how they made us feel, how they demonstrated a mastery of and a love for their material and how they drew us into the understanding and appreciation of that material. Probably not how they raised our test scores.
“Education is not the filling of a pail,” wrote William Butler Yeats, “but the lighting of a fire.”
Teachers, at least the good ones, have a calling. The calling is in igniting the quest for learning in their students, not in the amassing of their own benefits, though they, too, must make a living.
Society must decide how much a good teacher is worth, how many it can thus afford and how it will attract future teachers into the field.
It’s a calling, but it’s not easy. Try it sometime. Sign up to be a substitute teacher. Manage a class full of energetic young people and teach them something at the same time. There’s a test for the critics.
Stuart Deane lives in Newburyport.