– John Hugh (solo post)
The historian David McCullough, whom I respect immensely, and read anything he writes, once shared in an interview that one of his sons was a school teacher. But what I remember most was what he said next. He said – he was so proud of him, and that teaching was the greatest profession in the world, that anyone could ever do.
That has stuck with me, and I come back to it a lot. Between college and graduate school, as I was working, traveling, and figuring out what to make of my life, a trusted mentor, Sparky Reardon, Dean of Students at Ole Miss, said, consider teaching. It’s like throwing a stone in a pond – you’ll never know where the ripples will end up.
I believe it. Now, in my 7th year of classroom teaching, to 16-18 year old students, the above statements are so true. Teaching is the greatest profession. You never know where the ripples will wind up.
I come from a line of teachers and coaches, so I’m biased and there’s probably a bit of DNA in there. I lament, however, the way teachers can be looked at, at least in the United States. Do our best and brightest want to become teachers? Is it considered a successful profession? How much status will it give? How much income? In my opinion, other fields appear more lustrous and offer more benefits.
It’s not that way everywhere. In Finland, teaching is the highest profession and aspiration. Only the best become teachers and they are paid very well. It’s similar in Singapore. Both these nations have some of the best public schools in the world. There is a reason for that.
I am passionate about teaching. In teaching, though, I’m passionate about incorporating mentorship. You’re not just teaching a subject; you have an opportunity to pour into and shape a young life, as you teach a particular subject.
I do think more of our best and brightest are moving into teaching as a career and as a meaningful life work. Teach for America, Charter Schools, Public/Private partnerships, have much to do with this. There needs to be more movement. Especially in cities like Jackson, Mississippi. The church we planted in Mississippi partnered with a local public school. I was chaplain at a private school. They are a stone’s throw from each other; and yet they are worlds apart.
Teaching is the future because children and youth are the future. There is no greater profession. You never know where you contribution, to the life, mind, and heart, of a student, will end up. I hope to see, and hope to raise up, a generation of mentor teachers for society. I will continue championing teaching – in churches and in schools. I may even start a school where we’re going. Time will tell.
Many of us don’t consider mentoring anyone besides our own children. But we are called to a bigger family. Our idea of family includes the children we birth or adopt, but it also includes children who we cross paths with. If you expand your definition of family beyond narrow categories, you may find unexpected ripples enriching your life and your purpose.
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