Teaching is love

After my first year in education, full of daunting challenges on a steep learning curve, it was finally summer vacation.  Two days of hassled travel and we were finally on the beach with a good book.  After walking one hundred yards on the warm white sand beach of Lake Michigan, I planted my chair just out of the reach of crashing waves.  I picked up the first book on a short stack, chosen randomly from the growing ‘I’m-going-to-get-around-to-those-someday’ section of the bookcase.  “Life is difficult,” the under statement of the century, opens Scott M. Peck’s classic, A Road Less Traveled.

 I laughed out loud, more freely that I had for a year, put the book down and watched the kids playing in the waves.  “To be more specific,” I thought, “education is difficult!”  Still in love with the mission, less naive about the challenges, I had spent a year saying and doing stupid things, feeling totally overwhelmed, and frustrated by a level of complexity unapparent to the casual observer. 

 What must have been an hour later, I picked up the book and tried again.  Peck points out that love is extending one’s self to serve another person’s growth.  In this sense, teaching is the essence of love. To teach is to leave a legacy of expanded human potential. It is a calling that every man, women and child has the opportunity to participate in – the highest calling of human existence and the greatest gift of the human spirit.  

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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