Monday, May 07, 2007

I used to think that my duty as a teacher was to help my students move a little further along the road to excellence, but now I believe my job is to help them see that they are already excellent. My task is similar to slowly taking the bandages off a person who has had surgery for blindness. In a sense, my students have been “blind” from birth – blind to their astonishing capabilities – and it is my responsibility to gradually help them see how excellent they really are. I’m not leading them toward any future “goals”; I’m simply helping them to open their eyes to what’s already present. This understanding of the nature of my work as a teacher helps me remain humble. After all, the work I do with students is as easy as opening up a treasure chest that’s right in front of us. All we have to do is lift the lid. It’s that simple. It doesn’t require Masters degrees and special certificates; it requires only a steadfast belief that the treasure chest is, in fact, there – inside each of my students. When the kids learn in my class how to write more elegant paragraphs, in a sense they’re not becoming “better writers”. More accurately, they’re becoming better able to uncover and understand the potential they were born with. The ability – the excellence – has been there all along. I just help them see it.

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