the character of a teacher

As a young child, one rarely questions the preparedness or quality of a teacher. It is taken for granted that everything is being done correctly, and that if a subject or activity is boring, it is most often assumed that it is because the subject itself if intrinsically uninteresting. It is usually not until the teenage years that students begin to develop a sense of scrutiny, often mislabeled as rebelliousness (with the implication that it is unfounded or unnecessary), through which they begin to question the substance they are being fed, as well as the conduits (the teachers), through which it is conveyed.

Only a rare few actually develop this scrutiny in full, but for those that do, the entire power-structure of education gets thrown up into question. Why are we taught the things that we are taught? Are there other things that we are not learning but could be gaining more from? Who is this person standing before us proclaiming him/herself as a teacher, and just what exactly is their spine made of? Are they really figures that we should model after, and do they really possess any authority over us other than age?

In both the US and Japan, and I assume the rest of the world, the answer to the last question is generally a no. Teachers are the ones who are bringing up the future explorers of mankind on his exploration of the universe, and it is only the most learned and brilliant, both in intellect and character, that should fill these rolls. Our society does not live up to such values though. Throughout the grades of public education, we are training and deploying armies of babysitters as teachers, when we should be employing philosopher kings. Teachers should possess a lifetime of deep and diverse experience, able to guide students towards uncovering their own unique methods of swimming through the mysteries of life. If we regarded the role of a teacher with the same level of prestige and rigor that we ascribe to that of doctors or engineers our children would undoubtedly be more able to see knowledge as a means of self-betterment and as a means of tapping their greatest potentials, and not as a mere hoop that must be jumped through to attain a secure job. This latter view is perhaps the greatest corruption of the soul that the human race has ever seen.

As a teacher, I have no reservation in stating that the idea of a teacher’s only qualification being that of a “teaching degree” and the viewing the role of teaching as a skill in and of itself is complete and total bullshit. I do not mean to say that teaching does not require skill; it does, and a great amount at that. Teaching is an art, perhaps the most beautiful that man has before him; but this art is a vessel for content within, and not the content itself. Teachers go to school to learn the protocols and mannerisms that they should behave under, and once in the field, most of them rely solely on books written by other people to fill the void of knowledge that they themselves are without. All too often do they know absolutely nothing of life worth sharing to the future. And yet, they hold the megaphones above a podium before the youth–unfortunately, a youth that is unaware that these charlatans really don’t have anything to say.

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