Why Those Who “Can’t”, Teach

books and glasses___

I’m not the best athlete in the world. I’m not the greatest singer or the most amazing artist. I’m not a well-renowned historian, nor have I written the next great American novel. I have not discovered the cure for cancer and I probably won’t ever dance with the Moscow Ballet.

But love what I do.

I’m good at it.

I love how it makes me feel when I work hard, accomplish my goals, and master my craft.

I may never be famous for it, but I have to do it. It’s part of me.

And that part of me must be shared.

I teach because I can’t do anything else.

I can’t do anything else. Nothing else fuels the passion in me for the craft that I love– nothing fuels it like sharing it.

And so I teach.

I don’t do it for the money or the time off, or the late nights spent working on lessons or creating new ways to help you learn.

I do it because maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that what I love, you love, too.

I teach because I want you to love.

I teach for the moments when your eyes light up because a fire has been sparked within you. It’s the same fire that burns in me.

I teach for the smiles, the laughter, the joy– my reactions to your learning, shared with you at your own accomplishments.

I teach because my heart aches for you to engage– for you to develop a sense of self through the discovery of doing what God created you to do.

I teach because it’s fun.

I teach despite the naysayers– those who give voice to the idea that teaching, in any capacity, is easy.

I teach despite the laws, regulations, and codes that tie my hands, rendering me to often feel ineffective.

I teach despite the long days, constant training, and never-ending paperwork.

I teach because I love.

I love my craft; my area of expertise. But more than that, I love you.

I love it when you are a blank page, ready to be inscribed with the knowledge you will need to conquer the world.

I love it when you are a closed book–difficult and moody– you challenge me, and I never back down from a challenge.

I love it when you respond to what I’m teaching– when I see you growing and changing before my eyes.

I love it most of all when you realize that I do what I do because I love you.

I want you to grow.

I want you to find what it is you are passionate about.

I want you to work harder, be better, achieve more, and do things– things I’ll never do.

I want you to be better than I could ever be.

I teach because what I love requires that to be brilliant at it, I love those who want to learn.

And so I push myself. I push myself to be better and faster and stronger and smarter– for you.

I push myself to do more and be more and achieve more so that you will be greater.

I continue to learn and develop new techniques and master my craft for the sole purpose of sharing it with you.

But I remind myself that you are not me.

You might not love what I love. You might not respond to me the way I hope.

You might not understand that when I look at you, I see a person perfectly created by a great and mighty God.

But I will continue to teach you, praying that this God-given passion that drives me gives me the opportunity to show you a glimpse of what I love, and if nothing else, let you know that you can be passionate about something–anything–too.

Above all, that’s what I want you to find–something you are passionate about.

So passionate that you must share it with someone else.

So I teach because, by the grace of God, I can.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Why Those Who “Can’t”, Teach

  1. Tracy Jordan

    I have mixed emotions on your post. A very inspiring message of what I would hope every teacher would have, but I disagree that every teacher is given that gift. Teaching is a gift, just like singing (which by the way, you are awesome at!!!) and is given by God. Unfortunately I have taught with fellow teachers who were not gifted with teaching. They may have had good intentions, but teaching just wasn’t their gift.
    I agree that passion and love of what they are teaching, with the gift of teaching, is the key. You described that well. I hope I didn’t misinterpret what you were trying to say, but the title “Those who can’t, teach” rubbed me the wrong way.

    • I get what you’re saying completely. Teaching IS a gift– I believe one you are either born with or you aren’t. Good teachers definitely have passion. The title is simply a “headline grabber.” Plus, I meant to put quotes around “can’t.” I fixed it. 🙂

  2. I applaud your heart, and your conviction. It’s rarer than you may think.

    I taught engineering at the university level for many years, and met very few people who had any affinity for teaching – or any commitment to it. They were in the academic field because they wanted to do research, and, perhaps more telling – avoid any position of real responsibility. (The latter applied to engineering faculty, but I won’t make further assumptions.)

    “The system” actually fosters that attitude. Go to a major university on an interview and display a passion for teaching and you won’t get the job – and your interviewers will take pains to deliver genteel insults.

    And when you get the job, you’re supposed to process the students through with a minimum of fuss. Just teach them the software, and forget the principles – this was what I was told by a supervisor who should have known better.

    The other side of the coin is, unfortunately, the students. Between 200 and 2010 I saw a distinct decline in both capability and attitude. By 2010 students were regularly texting and accessing Facebook in class, and downloading term papers to pass off as their own. One needed software to do plagiarism checks – that requirement became routine.

    The kids felt fine about it – after all, the explanation went, WE are the ones paying for our education so WE should determine what we get – and how we’re graded.

    I guess the Burger King “Have it your way” commercials made an impression that was a bit too deep.

    I loved teaching. I did the research as a necessary adjunct to the job, but I always volunteered for the heaviest teaching loads, and the classes no one else wanted.

    I no longer teach, and would be hesitant to return to the classroom. I miss it terribly sometimes, but I think that a commitment to actually teaching may be obsolete.

    Did I have a God-given gift? Sure.

    But it’s no longer needed.

    • Andrew– I definitely feel your pain on this.

      Education as a system has changed so much in recent years, and definitely not for the better. For those who are truly passionate about the students and the material, it’s a slippery slope of navigating the red tape in order to do the job effectively. I taught high school for several years and faced many of the same issues that you did, specifically with the students. Many of the parents saw nothing wrong with what their students were doing. It was often like beating my head against a wall, and I was truly shocked (in the beginning) at the lack of integrity I was finding. I naively thought that the students would have a conscience.

      Be that as it may, good teachers are needed in our country. Those of us born with the desire to do it have to muscle through and keep going– we often have no idea how we are touching lives.

      My prayer is that all teachers would be inspired by their own passions and develop a love, not only for their content, but for their students. The job is so worthwhile, even through the difficulties. As you know, when you are doing what you love, it’s such a blessing.

      • I loved my students dearly – even the ones with ‘integrity issues’. They were let down by a society that valued flash over substance, and parents who were told they should not ‘stifle independence’. Thanks for nothing, Dr. Spock.

        My closest friend (beside my wife) is a former student. When my career was ended, the only support I had was from my students. My colleagues and ‘friends’ in the profession could not have cared less.

        I would love to have the passion again. But the experience I had – I don’t see how it can happen, and practically, there is no going back.

        And I feel wasted.

  3. Melissa Tagg

    Beautiful post, Jennifer. Made me think of several of the teachers who have made a difference in my life. 🙂

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