We all want to feel important; we all want to feel like what we do matters and makes a difference in the world. Educators are not exempt from this desire or hubris; in fact, we manufacture it better than many. It is common in my field of work to believe that the work we do is the most important work one can do: preparing the next generation of leaders, scholars, citizens, and human beings to mend this broken world. Sounds important, doesn’t it?
Mending the broken world is, perhaps, the most important task anyone can choose. The trick is that it’s not possible for schools to do all of the work. Parents are key, as are other role models. Any person or structure which influences a child’s development has a duty to prepare that child to want to do good in this world, and to be able to do it.
For my part, I believe that educators have a duty to inspire students to grow to become greater than they are. Whether you believe (as I do) that education itself makes one more moral, or that practicing acts of goodness or demonstrating compassion for one’s peers improves you, we must agree that students, children, are meant to grow into greatness. The phrase I’m using this year with students is “to lift up” one another. And I need your help.
I hope that you believe, as I do, that your children are already wonderful, but have a lot of work ahead of them to become great, magnanimous people who mend this world. I ask that you talk to them, regularly, about their responsibility to this world; model for them determination, grit, and hope for this world; never let them believe that they are done, but that they, as do we, must all strive daily towards our own self-improvement (what Rousseau called “self-perfection”). Inspire them, hold them, push them, hug them, and together we can lift them up.