Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why I Teach

I am a Christian and have always used the life of Jesus and His parables in the New Testament to serve as my moral compass in directing me to the best life possible on this earth. I have found that with a strong, moral compass I have been able to accomplish this goal throughout my 72 years of life. Part of my decision to become a teacher was watching my father interpret spiritual truths from the Bible that made sense to me and seemed to help others in their life's journey. My father had wanted to be a teacher and my becoming a teacher was one of the proudest moments in his life. I am glad he lived to see that.

 I have always been a passionate teacher and even though retired from the profession for many years, I cannot seem to stop teaching and writing. I sometimes have wondered why I don't just stop and enjoy being "retired." But I always come back to "this is where my joy is." I spend hours reading, researching and writing things and, for the most part, certainly have not become famous or rich. But that was never my intent in the first place. I am constantly besieged by promoters who want to help me promote my book. They always tell me my books could be best sellers with just a little more exposure. I never was interested in fame or fortune but I live with the dilemma of wanting my books to sell because of the message but not being motivated to enter the corporate controlled publishing industry or Hollywood control of my work. Today, I read something in "The Poisonwood Bible" that encouraged me to keep writing and teaching regardless of what my bank account might say. It has been something that has been in my subconscious lately as I keep writing and doing without any seemingly spectacular results.

I just finished reading a chapter in "The Poisonwood Bible" which contains a conversation that Leah (one of the missionaries' daughters) has with a native teacher named Anatole who works with the young boy pupils (girls were not allowed to go to school) and interprets her father's sermons on Sundays. The gist of the conversation was one in which Leah asked Anatole that if he did not believe in the truth of what her father preached, why he continued to interpret? The following is his answer. "What I believe is not so important. I am a teacher. Do I believe in the multiplication tables? . . . No matter. People need to know what they are choosing. I've watched many white men coming into our house bringing things we never saw before. Maybe scissors or medicine or a motor for a boat. Maybe books. Maybe a plan for digging up diamonds or rubber. Maybe stories about Jesus. Some of these things seem very handy, and some turn out to be not so handy. It is important to distinguish."

"And if you didn't translate the Bible stories, then people might sign up to be Christian for the wrong reasons. They'd figure out God gave us scissors and malaria pills so He's the way to go."

"He smiled at me sideways." Anatole now tells Leah what the name  beene-beene that he calls her means. "It means as true as the truth can be." My dilemma vanished when I read this. Growing up in urban poverty I saw many "visitors" to our Neighborhood coming in with their snake oil products and words of "truth" to bleed the vulnerable, uneducated poor who lived there. I chose first to find a moral path that kept me free from buying their tainted words or goods and then education to understand where my truth really lay. I chose to be a teacher to teach the truth (facts) in an effort to help "my people" distinguish their own path. This is why I teach.

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