What gets me up in the morning? The joy of teaching!

23rd April 2016 at 17:14
"Education is not a preparation for life – education is life itself."

What gets me up in the morning?

For me it is realising that I am but a tiny part of something truly great – the magnificent venture that is education. 

I am not so much a teacher, rather an awakener – what better role could there be than to enjoy the massive privilege of fostering a joy of learning? As I look at myself in the shaving mirror every morning, I ask myself the question: "Am I enabling those I teach to find out who they really are?" I couldn't sum it up better than John Dewey, who wrote: "Education is not a preparation for life – education is life itself." 

In the previous century it was said – on the eve of both world wars, and on both sides – that one was first broken at school before being broken again in the army. Today we live in the best and worst of times. Indeed, sometimes it seems that even in the developed world the whole education system is little more than a filter to weed out those who are too independent, can think for themselves or are reluctant to be submissive.

Minds are fires to be kindled

Often the barriers between training and education seem to blur and human beings are viewed more and more as data or units of productivity. Yet the greatest thing we have to offer is our civilisation.

As a primary school teacher, for me education is all about communicating our shared humanity; as educating a mind without a heart cannot really be viewed as education at all. Our minds are not empty vessels to be filled but rather fires to be kindled. The world is our country and our religion is to do good – each of us is different yet the bonds that link us grow ever stronger.

At the end of the day, education is about answering the question, "Who am I?" Teaching is all about relationships and the key to unlocking potential is to value learners as people. So whether you are eight or 80, it is vital to keep on learning and to realise that the journey has just begun.

James Glasse is a tutor and education consultant who writes on educational and related issues

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