Teachers Awaken That 
Joy of Knowledge

Most schools in the area have been in session for about six weeks. Students and teachers alike are getting back into routines. By now, most teachers have completed their first set of tests to see where their students are academically and where the bulk of the next eight or nine months of instruction will be spent.

It’s time to stop and appreciate those teachers.

Teachers long ago traded dreams of making millions for the satisfaction of getting a child to enjoy reading, for instance. A price tag cannot be placed on the positive interactions between a student and teacher and the contributions to society made by a dedicated teacher are invaluable.

So when I hear of attacks on teachers’ retirement pensions, and the lack of stellar test scores, it makes me sad and a little angry. Every teacher wants the parents of his or her students to be involved and some spend time in the classrooms helping out. But many don’t take the time to see the energy needed, the frustrations that mount, in dealing with as many as 30 grade-school students each day for approximately 270 days out of 365. Teachers earn every penny they make, and every dollar they earn after a career spent in the trenches.

I don’t use that term lightly. I know the connotation of the word “trenches.” And in some ways, teaching, especially in poorer districts, is like warfare. There are strategies used to capture an objective. Sometimes teachers are occupying forces, and they certainly hope to be an occupying force in the hearts and minds of their young charges. While armed conflict is rare, although increasingly a concern for the teachers, the real battles are fought each day as the students find their chairs and desk. Have they eaten a good breakfast that will help fuel their minds and bodies? Have they had a restful night’s sleep? Later, the battle shifts to will the student be picked up by a parent as worried about their child’s academic success as much as the teacher?

Fifty years ago, a student with a bad report would get a stern talking to from his or her parents or guardians. The value of an education would be discussed again and measures taken to shore up the deficiencies. Now, more often, the teacher of a student with a bad report card gets a stern talking to from parents.

Each student is special in his or her own right and one of the jobs that teachers do is to bring those innate talents to the forefront, then mold and shape them into something shiny and incredibly valuable… not just to the student, but to society in general.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Einstein said that. And, no, he never flunked math. That’s a myth and was pointed out to me by my high school algebra teacher. Now there was a saint of a teacher – patient, funny and caring. He knew I’d never use whatever math skills I gleaned from his classes later in life, other than to perhaps balance a checkbook or compute batting and earned run averages in my sports writing career. But I did learn a lot about myself in sticking Hyundai has worked hard for years to dispel perceptions that the South Korean company was a cheap knockoff of its Japanese brethren. The first shot to that myth that really landed was the sixth generation of the Hyundai Sonata with its aggressive yet sleek body design and fine performance that put Ford, General Motors and Chrysler on notice.with the class, studying hard and getting a decent grade. I had plenty of “creative expressions” of a different type after he handed us a hard test or another homework assignment that typically took an hour or more. That teacher knew I could do it, though, and kept pushing me to be better. He most certainly did awaken a joy in knowledge, a joy that still exists today.

But I’m still trying to find X.