Dr. Richard Scheuerman
04 Oct 2011
I Learned: Servant-Leaders in Education
How does one decide to be a teacher? I, myself, fell into seeking the profession after several community outreach experiences teaching poetry writing to Kent, Ohio’s, youth and war veterans. If a person, however, were to propose the question why teach to me only weeks ago, I would have carefully avoided giving a direct answer. I was not yet grounded by any educational philosophy, and cannot boast enough teaching experience to fill that void.
From a distance, a teacher’s reality is not exactly attractive. Arthur Ellis (n.d.) reported in the article “The Teaching Decision,” that only 70% of teachers surveyed about their career in education feel they are recognized for good performance; and, worse, only 20% of teachers surveyed feel respected by today’s society. Yet, that same teacher who is not respected by society, holds what Ellis (n.d.) refers to as a “public trust” where by default the teacher “assumes the deepest set of responsibilities a society can bestow on a human being” (p.3). What exactly do these deep responsibilities entail? I have learned that society has given its educators a multi-faceted role. Educators are stand-in parents, authors of stability, guidance counselors, mentors, and teachers for each and every child. How an educator teaches the set curriculum, interacts with students, and engages the surrounding community is up for open ridicule and criticism—even when undeserved—at all times. Let’s face it—teachers might never hear praise like that of a rock star, but always will be handed the tasks of a self-less and empowering servant. Why is it again, I ask myself, that I want to teach?
When he discussed how to teach what needs taught in the article “The Aims of Education,” Alfred North Whitehead (1916) noted that “there is one subject for education, and this is Life in all its manifestations” (p.6). By this statement alone, Whitehead redefines the outcome of education, the means of teaching, and the reason why I will teach. I won’t teach because I believe that drilling into a child a series of facts or formulas will change our country and its economic or global standing. I teach because I want to hand a child his or her toolbox founded in the elements of science, mathematics, and the humanities. With that toolbox, I will hand over our culture, and empower that child to enjoy it, to engage it, and finally to transform it.