Great teachers are a rock jutting from--and sometimes engulfed by-- an ocean filled with the rip tides of passion, ineptitude, arrogance, and ignorance. They are protruding spikes of granite that will not be eroded easily. These are the teachers who make every effort against tremendous odds to polish young minds into the building blocks of society.
Great teachers are awe inspiring in their efforts to create excellence; their influence is powerful, extending beyond even their own lifetimes.
A fortunate few of us have had exceptional teachers who gifted our lives with knowledge as they challenged us and created a need to meet the potential of what we might achieve. These individuals changed the way we thought, possibly sent us down a career path, or simply gave us a passion for learning, a passion that will move forward with us for all of our lives.
All of us have encountered educators.
More than a few of these educators started out to become teachers only to be crushed at some point in their career. Those individuals lost all desire to teach when they found themselves in the cesspools of gang violence, drugs, apathetic parents, and office politics. Once this desire was destroyed, they ceased to care about anything but themselves and their retirement.
There are more than a few teachers who began with a burning passion to make a difference, the kind of teacher parents beg, cajole, and, if all other avenues fail, intimidate administrators to have their child placed in. However, too often these very teachers are overworked and micromanaged by an institution that grinds them,--insistent on amalgamating them-- into the word many think is synonymous: they become educators. A number of these educators can and should be faulted for their total lack of effort to instruct their students. These educators become just one more cog in a machine which produces illiterate students who are passed up to the next level as they fall into the cracks of scholarship.
Most of those teachers who've been destroyed by our education system toiled under the constraints of weak administrators, administrators who cared more about the system and the political realities of their own success than education. For this type of administrator the people on the front lines of education and the children they strive to entice, excite, or simply drag kicking and screaming into an academic environment are of little or no consequence.
This type of administrator creates educators out of gifted teachers. In the process, they destroy the gifts and fervor for knowledge that could have been passed to future generations.
I invite you to wander through the very foundations of our education system and spend a few hours with a few truly great teachers. When you finish I'd ask you to answer one very simple question:"Would I be a great teacher or end up an educator?"
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