Teachers really have one job, and it isn’t to teach. A strange situation, but nevertheless, their job is to inspire.
To teach is to transmit knowledge to a pupil or disciple. This is done through a variety of ways, either by oration, explaining visually, providing opportunities of guided experience, and so on. To find the most optimal way, and then to perform it, is in and of itself an art. But to be a teacher isn’t to do this art, in the same way that strategizing isn’t fighting, or developing exercise techniques is not exercising. It is this difference that allows us to see the difference between a tutor, and a teacher: the tutor teaches, follows the tutorial that they have created, and expands upon it when necessary, whereas the teacher does this as well, but, more importantly, inspires their disciple not only to want to learn what they are teaching, but to want to use what they learn in day to day life, and to apply it in a way that is good.
It seems that teachers make some connection to their student. While they may never mean it to be personal, the connection most always is. They are willing to see their students also as friends and equals outside their duties as a teacher.
Alongside this connection there is a distinct enthusiasm about what their knowledge bank contains. It is a tempered enthusiasm, not overbearing as to feel the need to know whether or not their disciple is enjoying what they are learning, or to feel the need to bring it up everywhere they go. Yet, they look forward to sharing with their students their knowledge; they are proud of them, and they want to help, and see, their students be the best they can be.
Lastly, there is always tenderness, and kindness. They are accepting of how people don’t always get it right the first time. They still may be strict, however, but it is out of a need to satisfy what the student wants. Ultimately, there is no need for the teacher to shame or be disappointed their student; if the teacher is good enough, the student will care enough about what they are learning that they will do that themselves.
If the teacher connects, is tender, and is enthusiastic with their student, their student will drive himself to learn what the teacher wants them to know. It will then be to the luck of the student that the teacher knows what they want to learn. As the student learns, the teacher provides information that the student connects to themselves personally, and sees how they can use it outside of the subject they are studying. They apply it in a way that is good, because they see and feel their teacher’s kindness and enthusiasm, things that cannot arise from evil, and wish to do right by it. The teacher inspires the student to absorb the knowledge, and use it in many good ways.
To do this or not is what separates a teacher from a tutor. There will be tutors who claim to be teachers, and vice versa. A teacher may not necessarily have the profession that matches who they are, but that doesn’t make them any less a teacher.
To be a teacher is a virtuous thing. It is to benefit all communities, and to be helpful to fellow people. It is difficult to be a teacher, for it involves sacrifice, dedication, and either opening oneself to people in a way that leaves one vulnerable, or hiding one’s true self in a particularly painful way; there are few who truly deserve the title of “teacher”. It is an undervalued quality and profession by society, and it always will be, for it is priceless.
Thank you, my teachers. Don’t ever doubt your worth.