Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 22:52:04 -0400
Random Thought: A Sacred Trust

I just sent this letter to the editor of our local newspaper. I'll just say that it was mainly prompted by a message I received yesterday from a student. That letter brought tears to my eyes:

A sacred trust. That's what teaching is. A heavy responsibility. That's what teaching is. A privilege not to be taken lightly. That's what teaching is. A noble mission. That's what teaching is. An profound opportunity. That's what teaching is.

Making a life. That's what teaching is.

Anyone who steps into a classroom or lets someone step into the classroom should understand this. The strength of a teacher lies not in transmitting information and giving a test and assigning a grade. The authority of a teacher does not lies in coercion, threat, or manipulation. The power of a teacher lies in the persuasive ability to change people's hearts, to motivate them, to inspire them, to show them a direction, to make their own lives better.

The duty of the teacher is to honor the taught and humanize the classroom. The obligation of the teacher is to treat each student as a sacred human being and as an invaluable piece of the future, to help him or her learn how to love to learn, to help shape his or her character, to help instill principles, and above all to be a positive example.

These are not just pretty words merely to be said. They are a heavy obligation to be lived. They are a humbling burden to bear. And so, when anyone enters the classroom, know it or not, like it or not, he or she has accepted this charge. It comes with the territory.

Outside the family, teachers probably have the most powerful influence on a student. This inspiration rests on a chemistry of mutual respect and trust between teacher and student. Teaching is love. It is giving, sharing, understanding, encouraging, supporting, valuing, listening, patience, gentleness, kindness.

The limiting factor in education, then, is something far less tangible than anything most people have discussed much less sloganized. No one should kid themselves thinking that the cure-all answer to education's woes is simply either class size, salary, methods and techniques, technology, money, curriculum, much less a pack of standardize tests or a horde of certified ninety day wonders.

The answer to what goes on inside the classroom is what goes on inside the heart and soul of the teacher and every member of our community. If we want to improve the performance of each student, we each have to first improve our performance. That may not the simple, easy, and quick solution everyone is looking for. But, it is the right one.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier