To Teach and Be Taught

JULIA SERRA | OPINION EDITOR

When it comes to the social responsibility of a teacher, the responsibility of teaching lies beyond the teachers themselves. The classroom walls are not a barrier which learning is restricted to.

As a future educator, I am excited by this idea. It renews my motivation, which occasionally gets lost in the excess of early mornings and long days. But the value of teaching is not to be held by teachers alone, but by the general public. We are all teachers in our own way, teaching those those around us what it means to be a respectful citizen.

Let’s begin by discussing what it means to be a teacher. Images of blackboards and rows of students come to mind. But if we take the idea of a teacher outside of the classroom what are we left with? What does it mean for the grocery store clerk, civil engineer, or pediatrician to become a “teacher?” On one hand, they must be sharing information in some way. When teaching for the sake of social justice, this can mean sharing situations of oppression or confronting oppressive actions. But many of us have already learned that sharing information is not enough to create change. Spewing facts and figures does not usually help people to learn. Instead it disengages and aggravates. If one is to be a teacher, they will encourage learning, this will require them to engage in dialogue.

A true teacher works out of love. They teach for the sake of the students’ critical consciousness, rather than for their own agenda. This requires you to occasionally stop speaking listen. The Charlie Brown teacher who drones on at the front of the room, demanding the ears of students constantly, never wavering from the instructional strategy, may bear the title of teacher, but in reality is not a teacher at all. Teaching requires listening. Yes, that does imply a teacher will probably learn something from those being taught. This requires the breaking of boundaries, but it ultimately leads an intellectually stimulating discussion for everyone involved. After all, a teacher won’t have anything to share if he or she refuses to learn.

You don’t have to be an education major to become a loving teacher in the world. Look at the people around you with overwhelming love. Seek to spread that love and listen. Do not look down at the person you are attempting to teach and lecture, engage in a dialogue, allow yourself to be proven wrong, but above all be loving. So go forth and teach. Teach people about your position in the world, teach them what matters to you, and teach them how to love to the best of their ability.

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