A SALUTE TO TEACHERS WORLDWIDE
When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think justly he is an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.
– Carter G Woodson
The art of teaching is a noble profession and all that we are, is in part due to our teachers. There are many of us whose lives have been irrevocably altered by the influence of a teacher. Teachers challenge us! They stretch us! They cause us to grow and to expand in ways we never thought were possible. They expand the visions we have of ourselves and expose us to reservoirs of knowledge while bidding us to freely drink.
One of the stories which I remember quite fondly was articulated by Les Brown, the renowned motivational speaker. As a child, Les Brown was labeled as being uneducable and while sitting in a class by accident, a teacher by the name of Mr Washington told him to go to the board to work a problem. Les politely declined and indicated that he was not a member of the class.
However, Mr. Washington was adamant and demanded that Les go to the board. Ashamed, Les hung his head low and declared “I cannot do that sir, I am educable mentally retarded.” While the entire class erupted in laughter, Mr. Washington rose from his desk and boldly declared. “Son, don’t ever say that again! Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”
Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality! A profound statement! A statement full of promise and possibilities! This is just a tiny example of the golden words of wisdom offered by many a teacher!
Suffice it to say that this was a turning point in Les Brown’s life. The seed planted by this teacher was enough to empower this young man and place him on the path to greatness. This story is an elegant embodiment of the views put forth by Carter G Woodson: When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.
Teachers assist us in determining what to think and how to think. They encourage us to create new industries and to look at old problems through new eyes. They challenge us to move beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones and to set our aspirations to new levels. They encourage us to get up, harness our talents and make things happen! While this is a direct tribute to the teachers within the formal educational system, I would be remiss if I neglected to pay homage to the teachers within the informal educational system as well.
Many of us owe a great deal of gratitude to the mothers who mothered and fathered us; to the aunts and uncles who mentored us and to the grandmothers and grandfathers who breathed their experiences into us. To all these informal teachers we also express a sincere and heartfelt gratitude.
The history of the world is tied to the quality of the teachers who have graced life’s stage. And our words are inadequate to express the varied contributions which our teachers have made to the society. Perhaps one of the best ways to try and articulate this value is to take the liberty of contextualizing the words of the great playwright George Bernard Shaw, “Some men see things as they are and ask why? I dream of things that never were and I ask why not?”
As a society we are deeply indebted to those great teachers who have all inspired us to ask the question:
The Teachers Tribute
We cannot thank you enough for the gift you give
for the lives you touch
for the difference you make.
Words fail to express the extent of your worth
the tomorrow’s you inspire
the ideas that you birth.
Your influence is far reaching
It transcends time and space
And the time you have expended, it can never be replaced
We salute you all, dear teachers
Where ever you may be
Close by in our communities or far across the sea
We often fail to say it, but yet we know it’s true
The world is that much brighter, because of what you do!
Who was YOUR favorite teacher and why?