Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Eish*, that salary won’t pay much”

This is what - sneeringly – I am told when I make mention of my intended vocation. If not that, i hear that teaching is for stupid people. Frankly, I am sick of hearing it and refuse to give up defending the nobility of a grand profession discredited much too easily by many. Like teaching, poetry too, is derided. And in response to Plato’s attack on it (poetry), Sidney declares that it does not require a defense: poetry was a storage facility that housed all the old, basic and fundamental forms of knowledge – history, philosophy, even science and mathematics. Thus, deeper forms of knowledge are useless without poetry, as it is the parent block from which all other branches of knowledge initially stemmed. So one can truthfully state that poetry acts as (or is) the stepping stone towards academia. This is why Sydney believes that the person who mocks poetry is like a child who shows ingratitude towards his parents (poetry being the parent block and everything else, its child).

I love the way in which Sydney argues this point, because it is akin to the perception of teaching in society today. Much like poetry, school teaching is one of the parent blocks of human understanding and social construction. University lecturers are amazingly intelligent (and consequently, respected) because of the level of their qualifications. Also, they are valued because of the kind of knowledge that they can transmit and produce, all towards the development of society. However, we forget that their teaching is useless to the person who was without a school teacher to first help him understand the ‘simple’ basics, like learning to memorise and write the distinct curve and shape of each letter at primary school. Doing so was as hard as writing a couple of thousand words on the topic of subjectivity in Pride and Prejudice at university, the success of which can be acquired only through a gradual ascension across cognitive levels.

Successful teaching is an amazing feat. We are not self-sufficient in our ability to easily write or calculate. Our brains were taught to do so by out parent-teachers, the people who influenced the world in ways we forget to see. God-willing, I hope to become a teacher, and in response to all the why not’s, here is a wonderful list of whys:

To teach is to -
  • erase ignorance and awaken understanding.
  • determine a way of thinking for those being taught, thereby forming a future culture of expression, seeing and living based on the principles of each lesson.
  • establish a legacy of wisdom and understanding.
  •  be unselfish: imparting knowledge as a charitable gift.
  •  empower man with invaluable skills that others outside of school may not care to share.
  • invest in others with the wealth stored in your inner reserve bank: passion, kindness and guidance (and it is never depleted!)
[This blog is dedicated to the teachers of the world who create imprints on the consciousness of their students - who sometimes don't know it... but would thank you profusely if and when they do]

* A South African expression indicating surprise or dismay. Pronounced "aysh".