Think back to when you were in high school. This time left you a lot of fond memories. The sports games, the friends, the food, the smell of the dissections, that one time in health class with the STD pictures. Hopefully though, you had the experience of having a class with a teacher who went above and beyond. Someone who did more than just trying to get everyone ready for the state administered final. Someone who went about changing the way you thought about a particular subject, and made you break the mental boundaries you thought you had. If this was an experience that you were lucky enough to have, hold onto it. This memory is that of a great teacher.
A great teacher is not made just by how easy their class is, or what the average grade of students coming out of the class is. There is some bit of how well they can get you to learn the material. And by that, I don’t mean just to regurgitate for a test, but really know the material, by heart. The goal of a great teacher is to bring their students into a state of learning, but this is a kind of learning that cannot be measured by tests. Learning begets Knowledge, Knowledge begets Understanding, and Understanding begets Respect. A great teacher imbues in you a genuine respect for the field of study, regardless of whether you like the subject or not.
Last semester I had a class that I should have dreaded. Of all classes: an honors literature class just seemed like the worst idea for me to take in about eight different ways. For me, a computer science major, English is about on the opposite end of the spectrum from I enjoy studying, but in the end in this class I learned far more than I did in any other class. Did I enjoy the class? Somewhat. Did I end up with a good grade? I passed. Do I now know the material of the course? Better than I did before. But none of these were the real point of this course. I came out of that class with more than just a knowledge of a couple of foreign books and a renewed disdain for writing essays. I gained a respect for great literature and the study of the English language that I probably would never have received anywhere else other than with Professor Craven.
Introduction to Speech really wasn’t a class I was eagerly anticipating either. I never had much love for the thought of listening to, or especially delivering, speeches, but now at the end of this semester, I can honestly say I look forward to Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm. While I can’t say I enjoy writing or delivering speeches any more than I used to, I have gained an appreciation for everything that goes into making a great speech and for the power of unfettered words.
As I make the brush strokes on the canvas of my own life, painting the way for my future career, I cannot help but take notice of the the marks some of my teachers have left behind, colorful and true. I remember Ms. Howe, crazy though she was, Mr. Beckett, who loved knowledge almost as much as the daily Jumble puzzle, Ms. Arapakos, boy, did I ever hate her class. I can see their colors and shapes gladly contributing to the grand collaboration. These ideas beyond academic knowledge, hopes and dreams. I remember their faces, how much they loved what they were getting paid to do, a kind of art that changes lives. Sometimes, I dream of the challenge; could I be a great teacher? I can think of nothing more gratifying than passing on the knowledge and understanding to those who will shape tomorrow. It would be my part in making the future a better place. This is something I want to be a part of. This is why I want to be a great teacher.