For one of my classes, I have been assigned to read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington. As this is my second time reading the book I am noticing even more interesting and profound things than I did the first time.
I admire so much Booker T. Washington and his story, especially from an educational perspective. His philosophy is that of teaching his students to study “people and things instead of just books.” In other words, instead of just learning about math or Latin the students will learn proper hygiene, industry, the value of hard work, and about the Bible. What more could a teacher want for his/her students?
One thing in particular that stood out to me while reading the book again was this line:
“Let them once understand that you are unselfishly interested in them and you can lead them to any extent.”
Booker T. Washington put this idea into play as he was in the process of literally lifting up an entire race of people in the South through the growth of his school, the Tuskegee Institute.
I think this is such a profound thing, not only for teachers but for humans in general. Yes, we are selfish creatures. We don’t always achieve humility and sometimes our one-track minds are going full speed ahead into the Pride station. We think we know everything and we think everyone ought to hear about what we know. How many times do you call up a friend not to talk to him but to talk at him? How often do you catch yourself just waiting your turn to talk again instead of genuinely listening? I know I am definitely guilty.
I think we could all benefit from a little more honest attempt at unselfish interest. If you believe in someone and show them that you care about them, not for what they can do for you but just because you see their value, you’re going to have infinitely better relationships.
As teachers, this is especially important to implement with our students. Showing our compassion and our respect for them is huge in establishing a trust factor. Without this, how can we expect to be leaders of our students at all?
I’m still in the process of the teacher-in-training thing but I owe it to the people I care about to be unselfishly interested more than just once in a while.
Though it isn’t always easy, it’s definitely a worthy practice to pursue.
And by the way, check out this autobiography. It’s not very long but it is packed with some pretty inspiring stuff. Plus, it’s a gem because it gives an insight into post-civil war America.