Appropriate time to reflect on our teachers

The start of the year means a new academic year, work and other opportunities, those interesting and sometimes challenging resolutions, and a time to take stock of the festive season.

Many memories would have been made and special times spent with family, friends and relaxing in favourite places. Of course gifts play their part, as do shopping and stretching budgets to strained extremes.

But we would be well-advised to spend some time and effort reflecting on the role of the “teachers of significance” in our lives, past and present.

Most of us would readily agree that the term “teacher” applies to many different levels. and in a vast range of contexts.

Our parents and family members were generally the first “teachers”. We learned much from friends, colleagues and teammates, neighbourhood interactions and our unique experiences in life.

There are considerable differences between urban and rural upbringings, and cultural influences play a determining role. But we must never forget the crucial foundations and significant building-blocks contributed by our school and university teachers/educators.

For school-going youth and tertiary students, easy recall of the influence of teachers and lecturers is facilitated by time-closeness of their interactions. But for many of us, the true significance of our lessons learnt and invaluable preparation for life, become more apparent with experience and maturity.

The “University of Life” is an excellent vehicle to help us appreciate perspective and context.

Of course not all teachers fall into the “of significance” category. There will always be a proportion of unfair, uninspiring and downright incompetent teachers. From them we learn something about the realities of life too, which arguably toughens us to cope with those realities.

A bit of thought and some healthy reflection are sure to produce fond memories of teachers who have had a profound effect on our lives.

Our values, morals, discerning minds and problem-solving approaches and skills, will often be traced back to the indelible influences of these role-model “teachers of significance” . To them we owe much.

The quotes which follow are a tribute to all inspirational teachers:

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instil a love of learning.
– Brad Henry

The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires.
– William Arthur Ward.

And from our own icon and international statesman:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
– Nelson Mandela

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