IN spite of the vital importance of teaching and the thrust for improvement from within the profession, the rate of teacher dropouts is increasing. In some areas there is now a substantial shortage of teachers. Financial and other adjustments alone can never be generous enough to compensate for the accountability required of teachers or the challenges and stress they face. But prayer goes beyond rallying interest about a problem that affects us all. Prayer welcomes the divine aid that heals by restoring harmony.
Schools are so influential on so many lives that they deserve the prayerful support of us all. They are a major proving ground where many learn how to live with others, how to control feelings and tempers, how to contribute effectively to society. Helping others to develop character requires far more than a rote performance of the mind. Successful teaching involves a love of learning, a zest for discovery, a compassion for humanity, a zeal to pursue and attain ever-expanding capacities--and an unquenchable yearning to inspire all these in others.
The man chosen Teacher of the Year for 1986 in America, for instance, chose to teach because he is grateful for the influence on his life of those who taught him. Guy Doud evidently finds the schoolroom a good setting for learning, as well as for living his religious faith. In an interview he mentioned being approached by a student who was deeply apprehensive about imminent plans to meet his mother after years of bitter separation. ``And here I was,'' Doud mused, ``thinking mainly about what a great lesson on verbals I had planned.''
Such candid humility must have a healing effect. And what a vivid lesson it teaches us all about our need to be humble in our efforts to help resolve educational difficulties--to heal rather than to rush in with scant knowledge of the needs. Everyone interested in education may well benefit by adopting Doud's uncomplicated philosophy of teaching: ``Love your neighbor.''1
Christ Jesus' teachings show that there is a divine law that provides protection for unselfish loving. As individuals turn to God's law, seeking to do His will, they are able to rise above the indifference or rebuffs that would make withdrawal seem tempting. The Biblical command to love our neighbor may be viewed as mandated and shielded by the command ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.''2 Primary obedience to this primary command strengthens and shelters from reversal every sincere motive to live for mankind.
The divine revelation that man is created in God's likeness leads naturally to the conclusion that to love God is to love His man. God's man, expressing the all-loving, intelligent nature of His creator, is the true selfhood of all; and even one individual's awakening spiritually to realize this more and to put this understanding into practice is felt in the community.
When our love for humanity develops out of our love for God, we move to higher motives in helping to rectify the general crisis in educational systems. Progressively we see that true education has its basis in spiritual awakening. There follows throughout our experience a better balance of able teachers and available positions; also a narrowing of the gap between excellence in teaching and satisfaction with the recompense this brings.
No one has pat answers for the stabilizing and strengthening of schools. But divine Love will surely direct all who are working with spiritual motives and means to support education. Love leads all who would express love for God and man. And Love's way ensures a helpful, healing effect, for all.
Receiving and following divine guidance may require consecrated, prayerful work more than pedantic or self-serving words. But then, as Mary Baker Eddy3 comments: ``All education is work. The thing most important is what we do, not what we say.''4
1The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 1986. 2Matthew 22:37. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 289. This is a condensed version of an editorial that appears in the December 1 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 John 4:21