St. Francis Respects the Art of Teaching...

Teacher as Artist

St. Francis Respects the Art of Teaching . . .

My daughter felt called to work on the mission field in Africa instead of attending college her first year. So, as most fathers were dropping their beloved freshman girls off at a dorm only hours away, I was dropping mine in a small village outside Wobulenzi, Uganda, halfway around the world. Caveat, we did purchase a phone that allowed her to stay in touch.

One day she called to share she was teaching English to the village women. She was excited and nervous, but on her first day it was pouring rain so she did not expect anyone. However, more than two-dozen women from 20 to 80 years old slowly slipped inside the mission.

Dad,” my daughter spoke soberly, “Some of them walked over ten miles because they heard about the lessons. They were all wearing their full dress and they were soaking wet.” She paused and started to cry, “And, Dad, they call me ‘Madam Teacher’. I don’t deserve their respect like that, I am just a kid.”

I let a few moments pass and then said, “Honey, it is not you that they respect. They don’t know you well enough to respect you. They respect education and they respect teachers.”

She was quiet and remarked, “We just don’t do that in America now. What happened to us?

Simply put, we have forgotten that teaching is an art.

The brilliant author, John Steinbeck, said this: “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

Today’s teachers are trained how to map curriculum, how manage classrooms, how to ensure tolerance, how to choose textbooks, how to regurgitate common core, and how to reach tenure. But, they are not taught how to touch the human heart and mind.

In the building of today’s modern educational machine the most significant element – the soul – has been forgotten.

But St. Francis is different. We know that students are made in the image of God and that the classroom is filled with the greatest “medium” of all – human minds and spirits.

St. Francis understands that teaching is an art and it is worthy of respect.

– S. Phillips