Esteemed thinkers: teachers

It’s a job which I held for over two decades… this thing we call teaching. It is a profession that requires the participant to hold a higher degree, take state exams, continue to update credentials, and hold a license; often more than one. You are fingerprinted, tested, observed, evaluated, and assigned. It is perhaps the most underpaid and the most under celebrated jobs, but frequently the most rewarding. It is difficult to convey to those in other fields commanding many more incentives and a higher salary why a person wishes and continues to be a teacher.

So for today’s post I present a parable that may speak for all of us educators and retired educators; here is the tale of just what it is like to be a teacher.

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

 “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

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