Teaching to teach

Community Columnist

— The old Chinese proverb goes like this: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My daughter got an A in every subject for the marking period and I yelled at her.

Why? Because I didn’t even know.

Public education is one of those mandatory government programs that even the staunchest conservatives would not deny. It is the one imposition we can’t complain about, the one dictator we will serve. Education turns mirrors into windows and walls into doors. It’s a shared commodity that brings texture to our well-being, light to our landscape and soul to our nature.

It is common to hand children cut flowers and quiz them on their names. It is considered higher education to teach them how to grow flowers. Once the students identify the flowers and harvest the flowers, they have passed the test and are deemed worthy of graduation into the real world. However, I consider this to be an aborted attempt toward true education.

Too many educators teach to test.

The correct answers are merely the regurgitations of lessons given. A complete education must go full circle. Just as the student is the nearly educated, and the teacher is the sufficiently educated, the truly educated are the ones that teach the teachers.

Aristotle said, “those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well.”

I disagree.

Not only were my parents my first and best teachers, but by unveiling the art of living well, they taught me how to teach my children.

The students of today are the teachers of tomorrow. But it isn’t enough to follow in the teacher’s footsteps. Shakespeare didn’t write so that students, centuries later, could read Shakespeare. By offering his works, behind the veil of drama and comedy, he revealed the magic of teaching through art. When I was young, the record taught me the song and the music book taught me how to play it, but it was the Beatles who taught me how to write songs.

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