by Dr. Gary R. Carlson
One of the greatest problems facing our nation today is this very attitude that has a prevailing message. As we proceed in this country we have had circumstances that have been destructive to the very essence of what our forefathers harbored as great freedoms. The title of teacher has been used from biblical times to the present. Recognizing the teachers over these many years we often don’t understand the influence and contributions teachers are making every day. I am not just talking about reading, writing, math or science. We used to talk about the 3 “R’s” and today we are using “STEM” as the focus. Before we get to these premises we need to understand what the scope and sequences a teacher provides to our population and communities.
Throughout my travels I often make a point to sit down with students in the schools to discuss with them their views and focus on the school they are attending. Recently I was at a for profit school which provides career opportunities by delivering and education based on competencies and outcomes for the improvement of skills. The skills are mapped directly to the occupation they have chosen. When I meet with the students career or course focus is not often the highlight of our conversation. I find this common in almost all the schools I visit. Let me share with you five students comments made when I met with them this week. I have changed the names but the comments are directly from the students.
Diane: She is a forty-one year old student who has raised a family and finished early in her life an education in nursing. She now has proceed after all of the years that have passed to study in the BSN program. All of her discussion was about the teachers that have encouraged her and helped her to achieve success at the school. Her experiences at school were helping her on her job at a hospital. She specifically named teachers and a librarian that had made a difference in her life.
Shane: Shane had been in several occupations in her life. She explained the decision to attend this school was not about making money but to find something to do that she loved. Her choice in mortuary science was enhanced by the teachers she experienced at school. Their words of encouragement had produced a true love of the career she had chosen. Again, she mentioned teachers and their support and attitude had made a difference in her education. When she met with challenges they were always there to help.
Taylor: He had not done very well in school and had grown up in a community that was very small and didn’t present a lot of opportunity. His mother had worked in a hospitality job and much of what Taylor observed was his mother’s job duties. At a young age he learned to be intrigued with the hospitality profession. His mother died when he was at a young age. He now has carried on the ambition to be in the hospitality career. He also named teachers who have kept him on track and when issues like math were a problem they stepped up to help him to succeed. His motivation to persevere were directly related to teachers.
Bev: Safety and security was a major factor for her mother when she was selecting a school. They had visited many schools but this one was the one that communicated a true example of caring. Bev gave me some great ideas about how to improve the school on safety and requirements of the school which she was working on with her teachers. She is about to graduate and feels her teachers have helped her to com this far.
Allen: Allen wanted to be a policeman. He mentioned this had been a goal since he had been seven years old. After attending criminal justice program in another school and worked as a security guard he decided this was not the profession he desired. His story was how the school worked carefully with him to look at his aptitude and strengths. With coaching from the school he chose communications and is moving into radio and media. His experience and success has been a result of teachers who cared. interestingly he mentioned individual teachers who had changed his life.
I have mentioned these students because this is a common theme in all the schools I visit. Even with each of these students attending this school in different programs the teachers mentioned were often the same people who crossed program lines to help. Throughout my years I have grown to understand and appreciate the value of great teachers and teaching.
These outstanding teachers possess what I call the four “D’s”. If we look into their engagement with students you will find all four “D’s”.
Human dignity, the worth of an individual , self-respect and the respect of others. Great teachers understand the value of life and how to improve the current reality to a vision of something better. To provide this characteristic to each student and fellow colleagues creates a confidence of success.
Teachers have a devotion to people, home and country. These are the people who go the extra mile. Lifetime teachers have had numerous students pass through their lives. When I ask adults about their education at any level they always remember a teacher or teachers. When we think about these teachers we must recognize their devotion to country, community and those they touch.
Teachers make up a group of people who possess a strong work ethic. They are not concerned about time it takes to be a great teacher. If we actually measured the time great teachers spend in being a great teacher their hourly wage would be embarrassing. Not only do they work in the classroom but in the hallways and many hours at home. They operate by a creed of duty to their students. Every class made up of individuals who will maintain a bond of confidence between them and their teacher.
Great teachers are set apart from others by their morality. Teachers when confronted with situations that may not be comfortable to express their strong morality will stand strong on a code of morality which we all know is correct. The strength of their mentorship to students and colleagues is how strong they stand with this code of decency. Our country was founded on pilgrims who were looking to establish a country of common decency. Great teachers live by this rule by placing them on a transparency for what they stand for that is appropriate.
So when we destroy a school and support and ideal of I don’t know or don’t care we have lost all four of the “D’s” In the last few months I am assured we have destroyed many relationships, communities have been hurt and lives will never be the same. Facts will prove that any movement that destroys lives and the solution is to eliminate its operations doesn’t consider the alternatives. Extinction is not the answer. Once it is gone it is hard to bring back.
Protect what is worth protecting. Share your enthusiasm with others and be proactive in what matters. I have experienced our country speaking out with this last election. I just hope we hear correctly what they are saying.