The lot of a high school teacher, especially a freshman one. As the seniors walk the stage, we want to think we played the pivotal role in a child’s life, as the umbrella protests:
But they think more of the people who will occupy a significant space throughout their lives than their teachers, who were privileged to take up much of their waking hours during their teen years. They will forget us, but that’s as it should be.
“Practically perfect people never allow sentiment to muddle their thinking.”
What exactly is it that teachers do? We teach lessons, yes we do, we deliver content, but frankly, unless a child decides to enter our field, much of what we teach and test will be forgotten and will never impact the ensuing adult life in any way.
I teach Geometry. What are the lifelong carry-aways that students take out of my class? Is it that an inscribed angle on a circle is one-half the measure of the arc it intercepts?
Oops, almost all of you are scratching your heads. Nope, that’s not it. You might not even remember the language.
Is it that the area of circle involves this crazy number we call PI? Yeah, you kind of remember that, but you don’t know why.
And no, most of you did not get proofs. So I can’t claim that your time in mathematics helped in developing your ability to use deductive logic even though it did. You can’t do a proof, but your logical abilities were advanced. So that is a take-away.
Your time in mathematics grew your brain at the precise time it needed that stimulus. You added new synapses and you strengthened the connections between your cells. Your struggle in math pushed you beyond your capabilities until you discovered your hidden potential.
What did you get out of math? Your human potential.
But you do not realize that now.
I’m okay with that.
I don’t teach for your appreciation at this moment. I teach to make you the best that you can be.
And as you forget me, all the trials we went through, every time you pushed the rules, every time you messed up (but I gave you a way back, didn’t I?), don’t fret. That’s as it should be.
Have a wonderful life. Make the most of it.