Do you feel a teacher's personal morals have anything to do with teaching ability? I don't think a teacher's morality can be separated from her teaching. But there are many educators who would disagree with me. The curriculum, the books a teacher picks out for the children, inevitably reflect what she feels is important. She may not say, "This is my life style." Yet it is often evident in the approach she takes to her teaching.
I want to be sure I'm sharing with the children the highest quality of thinking. What do children need from their teachers?
Genuine interest and love and respect as individuals. I was a substitute in an inner-city school this past year. When I walked into the classroom it was absolutely explosive. These were third graders. The first thing I do when getting to know children in a younger class is have them make name tags and pin them on with straight pins. In a matter of minutes the pins were being used as weapons.
By the middle of the morning the children were literally jumping over their desks. The assistant principal came in and started calling them names and telling them they were animals. All the class management skills I'd been taught were simply not working.
At noon I went for a walk so I could get my thoughts in order. The situation presented such a violent picture that it was very hard for me to see what was really true, to understand that right here, in the midst of all this, divine Love was really the active force.
We made it through the afternoon -- and I was so glad to be finished -- when they asked me to come back the next day! At first I said no, I felt I couldn't do that. But in all my years of teaching I had never given up on a situation. I had always stayed to see it healed. So I agreed to come back. And you were looking forward to the return?
No! In fact, the next morning when I woke up I dreaded going into that classroom again. In preparation I studied the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm by Mary Baker Eddy, n1 trying to get something solid to hold on to. And I came across this verse from the Bible: "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and they thoughts shall be established." n2 I knew then that above all I had to commit myself to a spiritual view of God and man. With an uplifted view I'd be able to cope naturally and effectively with whatever came up in the classroom.
n1 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
n2 Proverbs 16:3
Then, as I was getting dressed, God's healing Christ came to my consciousness. The idea was simply this: "I am not the ultimate teacher; divine Love is the teacher, the perfect teacher." That was it. And it completely took away the limited sense, the false sense, of a mortal responsibility for managing children who were difficult.
When I got to school the spiritual truths just flowed in. As a result, we had a completely different format for the day. And within ten minutes those children started saying to me, "This day's different. We're glad you're back." Children wrote me notes apologizing for the day before. And then they would come up and say, "Isn't this a happy day?" The assistant principal came in expecting to have to yell and scream, and here the class was, the entire day, calm and cooperative, having a wonderful time. It was beautiful.
So I think this whole idea of love, learning to recognize man as the cherished child of God, is vital. Love is the motivating force behind all the good that a teacher does. DAILY BIBLE VERSE O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires....And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord. Isaiah 54:11, 13