What keeps you interested in teaching? I guess it's the constant freshness, the challenge. In a human services job there are such wonderful opportunities to grow. People really stretch you.
And I find that as you grow and learn and use innate qualities of creativity, intelligence, spontaneity, then naturally students respond to that. I love that verse in the Bible where it says to give "not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." n1 That's a good teacher to me -- a cheerful giver!
n1 Corinthians 9:7 How do you maintain your spontaneity?
I think by striving to have a spiritual purpose always before me. I try to see every child as an individual idea of God, His expression. I once had a student teacher who on days she didn't feel perky, would say to the kids, "I'm really a drag today." She'd explain all her feelings to the children, right at the beginning of the day. And that set the atmosphere for the entire classroom. So finally I took her aside and told her I felt that in our profession it was important not to bring to the classroom all those limited feelings, like "This is going to be a tough day" -- all those emotions -- but rather to decide at the beginning of the day that she was going to bring out the good qualities of these children, and not just the whims of her own personality cycles.
That was very hard for her at first, but I just refused to let her go ahead in the way she had started. And eventually she found that her day had more joy in it. The children responded by having that joy too. And she wasn't running into the discipline problems she'd originally had. The change had come from admitting, even if only modestly, something of the actual spirituality of the children.
It takes sincere desire on the part of the teacher to make this approach work. But it's absolutely mandatory, I feel. Have you ever had a problem with violence?
There have been times when I have walked into a classroom and the atmosphere has been so volatile you wonder what's going to happen next. Once I was attacked by a child, a mentally handicapped boy, much taller and stronger than I. I knew that if he suceeded in getting me down, I would lose control of the class completely. So I just reached out to God. I thought: "The only power that can really be in evidence at this moment is God. Both this child and I reflect the strength of divine Love." He released me almost immediately, and I found the calmness to tell him what to do. He settled down quickly.
When a teacher is in a tough situation she can ask, What is the true authority? What is the true source of peace? And see that it is God. God is the divine Principle governing all. What's really happening isn't a group of children responding to a teacher because they have to respect her, because she's the teacher and they're the kids. There's something deeper going on. God's ideas are responding to their divine Principle. How do you see the potential of children?
There's something I've used from Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm by Mary Baker Eddy n2 in this regard. Keeping it in thought can give tremendous freedom to a teacher: "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis." n3 I see this sentence as a real foundation to education. It's vital to see children as spiritual ideas, not confined by material limitations.
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the discoverer and founder of Christian Science
n3 Sciencee and Healthm , p. 258
DAILY BIBLE VERSE It is written in the prophets, And they s hall be all taught of God. John 6:45