Archive | June, 2011

Why Having a Child is a Surefire Lesson in Becoming a Great Educator

26 Jun

So I’ve pushed a baby into the world. We are plus one more on planet Earth.

In the recent past, I’ve thought that the use of the word miracle was hokey. Too strong for an unmagical world. A writer not caring enough to find the correct word choice. After all, the definition of miracle stands as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.”

In other words, a miracle is a pretty big deal. I was careful not to use the word miracle to describe birth –  having a baby was an everyday, common occurrence. Yes, it was incredible, beautiful, and on and on. I never was a big baby person, at least when it came to desiring my own.

And then I had one. And my entire world changed.

Yeah, I'll change your life.

Now, I might use the word foolish to describe my prior state of mind . However, a better word would be ignorant, and for a striving to-be English teacher, correct word choices are no small matter. For that matter, the word miracle should always be used to describe a woman giving birth.

The immense pain. The struggle. The fight. The ability to keep her wits and then to keep bearing when the wits are gone. And after what seems a stretch of years, a lifetime – there is a final push of strength and life is born.

Creation.

If creation is not some sort of extraordinary event that surpasses known human power, then I’m going to say that nothing amounts to a miracle. Throughout my pregnancy I found that pregnant women do one of three things to people: mystify, baffle, or terrify them. In my current position in life, I unfortunately terrified most (I’m in college). However, the ones that were mystified, often not pregnant women or women with children, understood something I couldn’t until I went through the process of labor and birth.

Pregnancy, birth, the closeness to a raw natural experience – it’s completely mystical and utterly life-changing.

After such an experience, a woman cannot go back to living the way she did before, for she has undergone a metamorphosis. Women are allowed a natural transformation, physically and mentally. After the experience of birth, we become ultimately fuller creatures. We draw nearer to understanding the human experience – and what is more important to teaching than understanding the human experience?

You could say training, intelligence, innovation, preparation; it is true that all these are facets to good teaching. Yet to be a truly remarkable teacher, you need to understand your students. You need to listen. You need empathy and compassion. You also need to know when to bring down the law.

The experience of pregnancy reminds us that we are not always right and that our expectations may be completely off; it reminds us that we are human, and there is an experience we can tap into that is more real than we allow ourselves to feel on a daily basis. It reminds us that there are more important things than the self, the ego – the connection to other human beings. With kids, there is nothing more important than understanding, for as a teacher, you cannot know the home from which the child comes.

Pregnancy, labor, and birth have utterly changed me and all the expectations I laid out for the experience and myself. If I am wise enough in the future to look back on the experience, I will remind myself that position and perspective are everything and that I may be completely wrong regarding a student, a lesson, or an experience. We must remember that we are not simply teaching scientific laws, theories, and literary criticism- we are teaching people, and it is people who are the most beautiful and complex subject, most deserving of our time and attention. Do your students the respect of offering understanding and allowing for change.