“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”
— George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman”
Leave it to an ill-tempered playwright and social activist to intentionally twist the words of a master.
The original quote was:
“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day / Week.
I’ve been out of school for nearly 50 years but there isn’t a single day in my life that I don’t remember at least one of my school teachers with deep gratitude and affection, not only for my education but for the inspiration that shaped the person I have become.
And, I like me.
Teachers have never been called upon to be and do more than they are today. We’ve gotten to a point where they’re not only asked to be educators and know something of child psychology, they also need to be part family counselor, part lawyer and in an increasing number of school districts and states, part law enforcement officers.
At the same time teachers still get a ton of grief from hyper-critical parents and local communities living in fear from an increasingly complex and violent world. We’re scared and confused.
Regardless of our age we have always looked to teachers to make sense of our world and lead us in the right direction.
Work days for teachers usually begin before sunrise and never really end. They go home long after the class day is over to try to balance the needs of their families while correcting papers, making class schedules and answering emails from parents.
Teachers deserve more yet receive much less pay than most of us who have more forgiving and less demanding careers. They do it because they are passionate about their calling.
As we celebrate teachers we need to go beyond smiling and saying thanks. Ancient cultures revered teachers equal to spiritual leaders and healers. We need to get back to that level of appreciation and to provide teachers with the salaries and benefits they richly deserve.
Remember your teachers with love and gratitude, even the ones you didn’t like when you were just a dumb kid.
And thank your children’s teachers at every opportunity. They’re helping your kids create their world in ways you cannot.