In hindsight of yesterday’s post, I feel compelled to talk about educators, and the way I view them. From a young age, we are exposed to teachers, most likely in a nursery school or preschool. Thus, the authority of a teacher is instilled upon us at a young age. Think about it. Our perceptions of the world are largely shaped by teachers, who for the vast majority of our youth are providing us with knowledge that will shape the future of our lives. Putting it on that grandiose a scale may be daunting, but nonetheless, we owe a lot to our teachers for what they do for us.
Yet, I think what is most essential in a teacher-pupil relationship is that the teacher be a good leader. I don’t think that a teacher needs to have a close and personal relationship with a student for the connection to work. Simply put, they have to lead effectively. Here is what I mean by that.
In my book, leaders are not made by their words, but rather, their actions. It is when a person’s actions dictate who they are that gives their words the strength to be truly effective. I concede that this view may be in part due to my distaste for folks who, well, shall we say, “talk the talk,” but don’t “walk the walk.” Either way, I believe a good leader is someone who ascends to that position through acting, rather than speaking. Why? Because, as President John Quincy Adams noted, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
There are many public figures, both past and present, who could give a good speech. Yet, what inspires us more? Is it a person who gives a speech on why the world must change, or is it the person who demonstrates the need for change through action? A few examples come to mind. How about a woman who refuses to give up her seat on a bus simply because society expects someone of her skin color to do so? How about a man who peacefully resists oppression in India, risking his life to do so? Or perhaps a woman, who, though expected to sit in the “whites only” section of a Birmingham church, decided she’d place her chair right in the aisle separating the two races, demonstrating a disdain for the status quo?
These stories reflect actions that inspired many. Not only that, but it was actions like these that gave these three leaders their voices. When they spoke, others listened. They didn’t listen because they had to, or felt an obligation to, but because they wanted to. They wanted to be more like these leaders, who never promoted themselves, but rather, set an example for others to follow. Indeed, it is no surprise that Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, and Eleanor Roosevelt were some of the finest leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet, the list of selfish leaders like these goes on and on, even today, and not just in the area of human rights.
Today, there is a multitude of examples of people who put forth a model for success that others desire to replicate. For those teenage guys like myself looking for an example we see often, I am giving special consideration to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who is gaining respect as a leader through hard work and dedication to his craft. He never tries to do too much on the field, but rather, remains level headed, and puts the interest of the team first. He regularly spends time improving the Seattle community, regularly volunteering to help youth in need. He also doesn’t get caught up in his own fame as his team cruises through the play-offs, and remains true to God, posting a bible verse on his Twitter feed daily. This is all despite being a rookie who most thought was too short to be a quarterback in the NFL, much less lead a team to the play-offs.
Folks looking to get to know him better can check out this commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja8SRzCtEVY
Anyways, back to teachers! How does this all tie together? I learn best from teachers who set an example that I’d like to follow. No, they don’t have to change the world, but seeing a teacher who is passionate about their work inspires my thirst for knowledge. I believe that this is why I was so frustrated yesterday. To have a teacher be the last to arrive in a classroom and not be very organized rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose it is something I’ll have to get used to.