Monday, November 25, 2013

A Labour of Love Still Deserve Thanks!

An Address To Those Who Have The Care of Children (Part 5)

Published Tract Association of Friends of Philadelphia, 1832 (but cannot be quite sure that it is not 1882)

With these, an easy, natural, modest behaviuor is more agreeable, then what is called a pretty manner; for nothing affected can please. Play with them; forget the teacher, and be their companion: at the school hours, your instructions will enough remind them that you are their master, and that is sufficient. Tire them not with reading: make them sometimes leave off when they have an inclination to proceed. Reflect how great will be your reward for the exact discharge of your duties. As you educate these children, they will educate theirs, and so on till time shall be no more: and if you this turn many to righteousness, you will shine as the stars forever, for so doing; and when the great Shepherd shall appear, you, with other shepherds, will receive a bright crown , which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for your labour of love: therefore serve as to the Lord, and not to men: think not of your pensions and perquisites, so much, as that the most important, the most honourable of all employments, is committed to your care, the forming the minds of the next generation, to avoid (as far as in your lies) all the faults of this, by endeavouring that those under your care may become blessings to the world, in every station of life; and bright angles to all eternity. 

My reflection:
Seeing that this is the week of Thanksgiving, I’d like to take this opportunity to give thanks to my teachers. Because my teachers at the Friends School permitted themselves to be my companions, I still (17+ years later) consider them dear friends, many of who I’m in regular contact. But more importantly I am the person I am today because of their teachings – they introduced me to knowledge, they fostered the transformation of knowledge to understanding, and then understanding to action. Now that I am a teacher I better understand the labor of love (and labor it is!!) and I try to emulate what I learned from my teachers – to introduce new concepts here and there, but more importantly to pull out the strengths of each child, and offer them opportunities to realize their potential, their passions, and their gifts. I seek to prepare each student with the tools necessary to bring their gifts to life in the world. I think for me, I left the Friends School knowing that my purpose was to use my gifts in service to the world. And I am so very thankful for my teachers for giving me the toolbox necessary for getting the job done.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fear Not To Lose Respect By Familiarity

An Address To Those Who Have The Care of Children (Part 4)

Published Tract Association of Friends of Philadelphia, 1832 (but cannot be quite sure that it is not 1882)

Above all things, give them a taste for reading; and then, by laying good books in their way, they educate themselves. Let their works and studies be for use, not for parade. Fear not to lose respect by familiarity: respect follows esteem and love and not constraint. You can only cure their faults by knowing them; you can only know them by familiarity with them. Encourage them to confide in you. Be not startled at their faults, or they will not show them to you. We only open our hearts to those we love, and none but such can mend them. Permit the children entrusted to your care, to be as little as possible out of your sight or hearing, as they will hurt each other if they are: for children left to themselves, even in play, will catch each other’s faults. All that has been recommended, is consistent with the most steady and regular conduct; for steady and regular you must be, or you do nothing. Make the children do as much as possible for themselves. Encourage them to keep their persons perfectly neat: use them to assist each other: be not severe for trifles: subdue in them, by God’s grace, every instance of pride and vanity: let the proud child submit to the lowest employment in all things: teach them to speak low and slow: discourage pertness, which often is a fault in public education: fashion them to a graceful gesture, carriage and gait; and make them polite: the foundation of good breeding is charity and humility; not to offend or assume, and a desire to please, is good breeding.

My reflection:

This is my favorite section of this pamphlet. So full and complex. I’ll leave my reflection short, so that you might re-read the passage again.

There is one particular line that speaks to me, “Fear not to lose respect by familiarity.” While as a student at a Friends school, my peers and I would often describe our school to outsiders by what it was not. (Quakers also do this when defining their faith and practice: no creed, sit facing in, not in rows, etc.) The defining features we would list about our Friends school included, no grades and that we called our teachers by their first names. And when I first learned that other Friends schools called their teachers by their last names, I was flabbergasted. It was not until many years later when I saw Paul Lacey speak that I came to understand that, as Paul said, “it is not that we call our teachers by their first names, rather it is that all of our teachers know our names.” It is in this familiarity that we, as students and as teachers, open our hearts and minds to be loved by one another. It is this familiarity that allows us to place trust in one another to prepare us for our future and to challenge us to reach beyond what we thought possible.