Monday, 29 January 2018

A Letter to Teachers

Dear Teachers

I am a passionate educator who recognises the immense worth of teachers. At times it can be a thankless vocation but overall the rewards are enormous. We all strive to do our very best for our children with the knowledge that perfection is an elusive dream.

W.B Yeats wrote the below poem to his love Maud Gonne saying if he was a rich man he would give her the world and all its treasures but since he was a poor man, all he could offer up was his dreams. 

The Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, 
Enwrought with gold and silver light, 
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 
Of night and light and the half-light, 
I would spread the cloths under your feet: 
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; 
I have spread my dreams under your feet; 
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” 

In one of his many speeches, Sir Ken Robinson very cleverly uses this poem as a lyrical metaphor to sum up the challenge that we as teachers have every day.  Sir Ken finishes with:

“And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” (1)

Children know if we care enough. They know if we 'get them' as an individual. They know if we are doing our best for them or just taking short cuts and the easy options to get through the day. 

Teaching is a huge responsibility but also a great privilege as each day we have the opportunity to make a difference to children's lives, and over a year hopefully impact them in a way they will remember and appreciate for the rest of their lives.

"Teachers matter more than anything else in a classroom. More than any programme, any device, any new pedagogical shift... it is you who matters the most.

How we choose to engage with a child, how we choose to hear them makes all the difference to the individual. It can define how they see themselves as a learner and ultimately as a successful human being." (2)

As we enter a new year let us tread carefully.

Warren Owen

(1) Sir Ken Robinson

 (2) Footnote: I was motivated to write this by reading a piece written by Leslee Allen.