Wednesday, April 05, 2006

5th Week of Lent - Duties to Teachers

"It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God." St. John, 8:54.

Years ago a flying instructor in Kansas City, Missouri, went up with one of his students in a training plane. The student already had several lessons and was doing good work at the controls, so good that the instructor, seated in the cockpit, dropped off to sleep.

The student smiled. He kept flying until his instruction period was over and then gently landed the plane without disturbing his instructor who slept soundly on. The student rolled the plane into the hangar and walked off, leaving his teacher still sleeping.

Later the instructor awoke. He was startled to see no one at the con­trols. He could not hear the motor running. In his half-awake condition he concluded that the motor had quit in the air and the student had bailed out. The half-dozing instructor rolled over the side of the plane, pulled the rip cord of his parachute and landed on the concrete floor of the hangar. He broke his collar bone.

This fantastic and half-funny story offers many suggestions. I would point out one of them, the student's consideration for his instructor. The lad did not disturb him in his sleep.

Would that every student used such consideration and kept in mind that he has duties and obligations toward his teacher, which are similar to one's duties to parents.

Teachers are taking the place of parents. Father and mother have entrusted children to the care and instruction of men and women who have prepared themselves to teach and prepare them for life. Teachers take the place of parents at least for certain hours of the day, certain days of the week, certain years of one's life. Because they take the parent's place, one owes one's teachers the same duties one owes his father and mother, the duty of honoring, loving, respecting, obeying and appreciating them, and, as in the case of the young student pilot, of being considerate toward them.

1. God has promised to honor worthy teachers. "They that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice as stars for all eternity." Daniel, 12 3. In a sense, everyone of us has been called to teach, in that we are to tell others and show others the glorious truths of our wonderful faith.

Pupils should honor their teachers for the knowledge and skill they have, for the sacrifice they make in classwork, and for the taxing efforts a teacher puts forth in preparing a pupil for life.

2. Respect is related to honor. It requires that we show reverence, courtesy and deference to those who are chosen to instruct us. Courtesy is an out­standing obligation toward our teachers, "Please" and "Thank you" must be part of our dealings with them. Courtesy demands that we listen to their explanations, that we accept corrections, that we do or say nothing that will make the teacher's task more trying.

This respect should not end with graduation. Nothing is more encour­aging, especially to a religious teacher, like the sisters and brothers who teach in school, than to have former students drop in or write an occasional note. Even an occasional gift to a former teacher would be a fine way of showing your respect.

3. Students have the further duty of obedience. As we are bound to obey our parents, so we are bound to obey our teachers. The rules of the class­room or school are not made to keep anybody from having a good time, but to keep order and quiet so that the pupils can learn as much as possible.

The great majority of teachers try to be reasonable. They try to make things as easy and pleasant as possible. Of course, they have their faults and short­comings, of which we will speak next week, but in general teachers are giving their all to prepare you to take the best possible place in life.

Who is the best coach for a football team? Is it one who allows the squad to run around wherever they want, to throw the football wherever and whenever they feel like it? Or, would it be the coach who insists on discipline, who makes every member of the team and subs do a certain thing at a certain time? You answer that question yourself. Then you will realize why a teacher has to have discipline and order in the classroom.

4. We must also be grateful to our teachers. Now and then thank your teacher for explaining some difficult problem. Now and then send her a birthday or Christmas card. Now and then show your appreciation by some remembrance.

The story is told of a great general of our Civil War who was traveling along a country road when he passed the home of a former teacher. He dis­mounted from his horse and strode up to the house. When his teacher answered the door, the general dropped down to his knees and told his old school master:
"I have to thank you for my success. I was a careless, lazy boy. You were strict with me, you corrected me, you even punished me. You did not let me rest until I mended my ways. I thank you for every harsh word, I thank you for every punishment, for I deserved every bit of it. I want to thank you for shaping my life."

That should be the sentiment of every student toward every teacher he ever had. And, by the way, that should be the feeling of every parent toward the teacher of his child. Back up the teacher. Honor the teacher. Uphold the teacher's decisions. If there is something wrong with the method or matter of the instruction, do not criticize the teacher in the presence of the children. Go have a quiet, intelligent talk with the teacher.

Jesus tells us that He does not glorify Himself. Neither does the true teacher. Jesus said His Father would glorify Him. May the good God reward and bless all our good teachers. And may you and I show our teachers the honor, respect, obedience and appreciation which they deserve.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

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