A Word about Teachers

On Friday, I will address a group of teachers at a teachers’ conference in Edmonton. While I was busy honing my presentation, I was, at the same time, reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This wonderful book is the story of climber, Greg Mortenson, who after becoming lost descending from K2, was befriended by the villagers of Korphe in northern Pakistan, an area without schools. Seeing the great need for education, Mortenson promised to return to Pakistan and build the Muslim children of Korphe a school. That promised launched him into a lifetime of combatting igorance by providing schools for children in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. What fascinated me as I read was how eager the poorest and most uneducated were to have their children educated, and how willing even seemingly unethical characters were to invest in Mortenson’s vision. Yet, it has always been so. Ignorance is the enemy and education the path for success and peace almost everywhere in the world.

As a teacher, I’m not sure I ever appreciated my worth as a teacher. So often we see our jobs in a mundane sort of way, plotting the day to day activities, and forgetting that they will culminate in an "education". It is hard not to lose sight of this and even harder to remember what this means to each and every student. Reading Three Cups of Tea made me appreciate what the consequences of no education were on a global scale, and while it might be easier to think about the positive ramifications of having an education, it is the negative ones that stand out in a ferociously graphic way. If you haven’t read this book, it is a wonderful story, an inspiring tale and a well-written book that every teacher should read, because it will reaffirm what we all do and the reasons why we must continue to do what we do well.