Stars for all eternity

Teachers have followed their calling along a perilous path in the recent past. Because they are the ‘intellectuals’ in the community they are vaguely thought of as influential in forming opinion.

And when a scapegoat is needed to explain why a community is not following the ‘correct’ political line teachers can be among the first to be identified. There have even been stories of students being encouraged to beat up their own teachers.

Yet it is not supposed to be like that. To be a teacher is to belong to a noble profession where one has the awesome task of forming a young, vulnerable and impressionable person. Children may size up their teachers and either appreciate them or dismiss them as useless. But there is no escaping the fact that a teacher is in a position to open up the minds of students to values that will set them on a firm path for life.

Among these values are openness, curiosity, attention, steadiness, honesty, kindness and a passion to work for others. If a young person owns these and makes habits of them he or she will have received a great start in life.

Ken Loach is one of the great film directors of today and when he was asked what had influenced him to be what he is he singled out his history teacher at school – who taught his students to rigorously examine events, their causes and their results. When we look back at our time at school we can all think of someone who helped us in some way. One inspiring teacher is worth more than a dozen who ‘are just doing a job.’

And when Jesus says, ‘anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me’ (Luke 9:37) he is drawing the relationship of teacher/student up to a higher level. He is calling the teacher to realise that forming a child so that they internalise good values for life is doing something that will have eternal consequences.

The teacher is not just helping the child to face the challenges of life. He or she is preparing them for a life that will blossom in the life that is to come. ‘Those who have instructed many in virtue shall shine as stars for all eternity.’ (Daniel 12:3) These words should be inscribed on the tomb of every teacher.

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Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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