I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
― Mark Twain
Education annals tell of an elementary school teacher who arrived at her classroom on the first day of the term and studied her class roster. To her delight, she saw high I.Q. marks next to each name – 121. . . 128 . . . 138. “Thank goodness!” she told herself. “Finally a class I can do something with!”
The teacher gave the students challenging lessons and freedom to create. As expected, they all excelled and at the end of the marking period most received A’s. The next day the principal called the teacher to his office. “How did you turn these low-functioning students into geniuses?” he asked. “What do you mean?” the teacher replied, pointing out their I.Q.’s in her register. The principal studied the register and shook his head. “Those are their locker numbers,” he explained.
Excellence in any educational arena is based on (1) the passion of the student; (2) the passion of the teacher; (3) the self-image of the student; and (4) the image the teacher holds of the student. The role of a true teacher is not to cram facts into an empty brain, but to see the student as capable and powerful, and ignite the fire of purpose. If you are not enthusiastic about what you are teaching, you are robbing your students as well as yourself. If you are enthusiastic, you are giving your students the gift of aliveness. Education is not just about facts. It is about vision.
In the movie E.T., young Elliott has met his extraterrestrial friend and hidden him in his bedroom closet. Elliott’s older brother Michael discovers E.T. and befriends him too. On their way to school the next morning, Michael asks Elliott, “Did you explain school to him?” Elliott answers, “How do you explain school to higher intelligence?”
Many schools have become little more than holding tanks and babysitting institutions. Yet there are some teachers and administrators who remember that the goal of education is expansion of the spirit. Students, they realize, do not come to school to be contained, but to be inspired.
How can you draw forth the greatness in your children, students, employees or friends?
I regard people as intelligent and capable, and ignite their potential by acknowledging it.
John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.