Raising Empowered Citizens – now THAT’s a Work of Art!

by jdr

she flies - original art by julie doane robertsThe contention that teachers are paid too much blows my mind – the patience, wisdom, creativity and energy it takes to successfully teach children is impossible to measure.

Just because it is immeasurable, doesn’t mean it’s not huge – it means we’re attempting to measure skills and talents that are beyond quantification. Teaching is so multi-faceted, it’s really more an art than a skill.

The teachers who have impacted us remain in our memories, still influencing us decades after our day-to-day interactions have ceased.

That’s power.

When teaching is done correctly, it changes students by influencing their thoughts and decisions yet to come, the goals and intentions yet to be made, the achievements yet to be realized.

Teaching is profound work with profound results. It is also often a thankless job, working with people not yet old or mature enough to know that the work being done is important work, meaningful work, the beginning of the trajectory of what will hopefully be a life well lived.

Teachers guide the minds and dreams of students. Teachers inspire and challenge students. Teachers become close to students in the sharing of daily ups and downs, failures and successes, questions and their sometimes fragile answers.

I am one of the lucky ones. I had great teachers who still occupy a place in my mind and thoughts daily.

  • Mr. Gabordi – thank you for being a personable teacher who created a friendly atmosphere in which we were encouraged to explore, ponder;
  • Ms. Hurd – thank you for making me diagram sentences on the blackboard over and over and over and over;
  • Mr. Hull – thank you for bringing to life the words of Walt Whitman – every poem and song I have written has been influenced by you;
  • Mr. Parker – thanks for trying to get me to understand geometry;
  • Madame Cluny – merci, et je suis désolé tu es parti… et à bientôt, peut-être;
  • Mr. McCourt – thank you for teaching me the joys of the exquisite combination of a fine cigar, sunflowers and a summer night;
  • Dr. Ort – thank you for teaching me that REVOLUTIONS are imperative for a society to work FOR the people!

and so on…

Anyone who undervalues the gifts that teachers give daily needs to go back to school.

I recently saw someone on TV say that teachers are paid “lavishly” – and he rolled his eyes as he said the word, emphasizing it as though he were playing a part in a soap opera. The disrespect inherent in that action makes me realize the depth of ignorance at play in this hyped-up, frenzied attack on teachers.

Teachers are one of the most important facets of a civilized society. The attack on teachers is an attack on civility.

Now more then ever, it is painfully obvious that raising empowered citizens is mandatory for the well being of our country, and, in fact, our world – pawns will do the bidding of the highest payer, but empowered citizens will rise up and express eloquently what needs to be said, will take action – we must take action.

Teaching is not a thing to be standardized – that would make us less human.

We already spar for our human rights with businesses that have been endowed by our very own government with more power than actual citizens of the human variety, with special rights offered to avoid paying due taxes, special ways to sidestep laws, special rights to pollute as they trash our environment while extracting our natural resources, and it has become painfully apparent these corporations have even purchased the highest court in our land.

It is clear that teaching, done right, is an art. Art is the domain of human beings – living, breathing, sentient creatures – who cannot be bought and who defy the idea that an “on sale now!” price tag can be conveniently slapped on teaching and learning.

Raising empowered citizens is an art and I commend the artist-teachers all around our world. And I personally know you are not paid enough for your work and your dedication to the young people who so dearly need your best self to come to work each day.

Art will save us all – or die trying.

Yeah, I said it – Art will save us all – or die trying!

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