I find it humorous (Ironic?) that I have to, get this, go to school—to become a teacher. I have to be taught how to teach. And here I thought it was my giving, outgoing personality and verbal (notice I didn’t say “public speaking”) facility coupled with an all-around ease at understanding and then regurgitating information. Oh, don’t kid yourself. That’s essentially what it is.
I suppose it’d also be a willingness to put one’s life on hold in order to see someone else stand up for themselves. To stand up when all they thought was they could sit it out, blissfully ignorant. Do I care that the person in front of me has an expired tag or a burnt-out taillight? Not really. I do, however, care that a child know the difference between “limb” and “limn.” I care that things are pronounced correctly and that they use whatever multiplication algorithm makes the most sense to them. I care about these things; not because I was taught to nor because it will be what pays the bills. It’s who I am. I know I’m supposed to teach, how else can I say it? I will therefore let someone show me how to do it better.
QUIS DOCEBIT DOCTORES
It’s Latin for “Who will teach the teachers?” And it’s rendered in caps because lowercase letters (or minuscule) hadn’t evolved out of an exclusively uppercase (majuscule) way of writing when Latin was lingua franca. But think about it: what was it that inspires someone to understand a topic, subject, discipline for themselves to where they not only know it backwards and forwards but that also impels them to explain it to someone else? Is it simple curiosity? Hashing out the latest spoilers of whatever franchise released its most recent entry last night is on the spectrum of teaching. But only insofar as the audience to whom one is talking is engaged and enrolled in a shared passion for, say, the BBC Sherlock. Should someone not be inclined, it comes across as pointless and silly. I digress. But if I want to explain how Set Theory undergirds modern mathematics and how an understanding of the simpler, introductory points of Georg Cantor’s contribution to the science might, might help with the confusion that one most likely acquired (as in, “became a slave to”) in 4th or 5th grade, this is something altogether different than simple curiosity. This is compulsory. This is essential. There are things in this world worth knowing. This is where teachers come in and this is the natural outworking of an innate curiosity.
At this point, I’m one day away from beginning my sixth term at community college. The future’s wide open and there’s still a lot of unknown left. But the curiosity’s there. I know that as I continue to read and learn and be taught, it’ll only grow. The roots will spread even as the above-ground branches out, frondesces (Word of the day!) and fructifies. I am passionately curious (I’m quoting Einstein). But this doesn’t mean that the things to which I apply said curiosity aren’t worth learning and knowing and in turn explaining to others should the need arise. This is what it means to teach.