Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Shall Always Be a Teacher

Professor in his duds, 2003. Only a goatee back then.
Well, it's September already.

The older kids -- John Paul, Agnese, and Lucia -- are pretty much back to their normal school routine. At Chelsea Academy this means plenty of study, plenty of sports and other activities in the fresh air, plenty of formation in their faith, plenty of fun, and plenty of homework too. They also manage to eat and sleep, somehow. (Haha!)

John Paul is a Senior now. As parents have been saying since the beginning of the universe, "Where did our little baby go?" But there's not much time to think about that: too many things to do this year. The college application and discernment process is well underway already.


The beginning of September makes me think of the many years when I had a normal academic routine, as a student and then as a teaching professor. There are advantages, certainly, to the "quieter" style of life that I now must live, not the least of which is the freedom to make my own schedule. But I miss being caught up in that great swell of activity and anticipation and "new beginnings" that are always in the air with the new academic year.

Sure, I'll continue to be "special resource associate and scholar in residence" at the John XXIII Montessori Center (which starts up in a couple of weeks). That means at least that I will be getting up early in the morning with everyone else and going to the Center's office. It will be a good change of atmosphere, but it's not the same. It's not my classroom. It's been over six years but I haven't stopped missing it.

Still, I remain a teacher, and not only "at heart." I have found new forums in which to teach, and new subjects too. And I remain a student. In these last several years I have studied and observed and learned so much, from books, from other media, from observation, from endurance, from the whole scope of this unusual life.

I am convinced that the best teachers are also perpetual students; they communicate to their own students the enthusiasm about what they are learning. The best way to guide the search for truth (in any area) is to be on it one's self. The teacher is the one who is at the head of the hike, looking for the hilltop through the laborious path, and when he comes to the top and sees the view, he shouts back to the others: "Come this way, it's here, look at this wonderful view!" The teacher is the one who wants to know all about what he is seeing, who studies the map so he can understand as much as possible -- not only for his own personal appreciation but also so that he can point it out to the others: "There is the river that flows into that lake where the old fort is, and beyond the horizon there is...."

The teacher is also the one who sees the next hill, and says, "now we have to climb this one!"