Monday, August 18, 2008

Growth Through Teaching

As we close in on the beginning of our semester, I thought it might be appropriate to mention an article I read for the first time back in the spring entitled,  Growth Through Teaching, by Rabbi Noah Weinberg.  It is a very down-to-earth discussion about the benefit to oneself from teaching.  The rabbi seems to be addressing the "non-professional" teachers, i.e., all of us who don't spend part of our working day in a classroom, however, I think his message is a good one for the "pros" as well.  Basically, he argues that teaching is a moral obligation.  To quote: 
To attain wisdom for living, teaching needs to be a basic way of life. . . . By reaching others, you will reach yourself. . . . When you reduce ignorance in the world, even by a little bit, you give a great gift to mankind. . . . Help cure the international ignorance problem.  Teach wisdom.
At some point, even the most brilliant teachers worry that they are not reaching their students effectively.  (Repeated misspellings on student papers, e.g., "mid evil," do have a daunting effect on even the hardiest educator's ego.)  In some institutions of higher learning, the duties of teaching become merely the scut work that keeps the REAL business of research chugging along by bringing in the paying customers.  And the shortcomings of students can always make cheap fodder for cocktail party stories.  

So, now is a good time to consider WHY we teach and how it changes lives--both our own and others.  Click on the link above and read the article.  It comes from a web site called which describes its parent organization this way:  "Aish HaTorah is a non-profit, apolitical network of Jewish educational centers, with 25 branches on 6 continents. Aish provides opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover the beauty and meaning of their heritage in an atmosphere of open inquiry and mutual respect."  Rabbi Weinberg is the founder of Aish HaTorah and the article comes from his book, "48 Ways to Wisdom."

And don't forget--teach wisdom.

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