The best teachers are agitators–and I mean that in a positive sense. They challenge the status quo…what we think we know.
As our children begin to learn about the world they live in, teachers encourage them to explore…to ask “why”…to figure out how things work. Yes, there are some basics that just have to be learned, but children learn by experimenting…by questioning.
As they get older, the best teachers encourage them again to ask “why”…to question the status quo…to seek to understand how the world works…why people act (and react) in specific ways…
And as they get even older, again the teachers who agitate encourage them to think for themselves…to discover what they believe and why. They encourage them to challenge doing or understanding things the way they always have been…to discover new ways of seeing…new perspectives. They encourage them to experiment…to see how previously “impossible” things can be made possible…
If this didn’t happen, we would still be in a world in which space exploration was impossible. We would believe the world was flat. We would not have medicines that have made the world safer. We would not be able to see that there are many ways of understanding the Divine…or enjoy reading and watching movies.
We still have a long way to go. But I am grateful for those agitating teachers who have challenged me in the past. It’s because of them that I am more certain of my faith…that I can honor those who have studied the natural world to better understand how it works. It’s because of them that I can go to doctors when I am sick and be treated out of knowledge, not myth. It’s because of those agitating teachers who challenged the status quo that I can look back and see the progress we have made.
They’re not perfect–and neither are we. There are still many areas in which we have much to learn–and unlearn. I am aware that the history I learned is not a complete history–there are many untold stories that may very well change what I thought I knew. There are lessons to be learned from other cultures…other faith traditions.
But I am also grateful that my faith tradition has scripture that calls for us to “seek…out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning even by study, and also by faith”…that calls me to be willing to learn “things both in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth [all the sciences]; things which have been [history]; things which are [current events]; things which must shortly come to pass [future planning]; things which are at home [my country’s history and events]; things which are abroad [world history and events];…a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms…”
So I want to say thank you to those teachers who agitate against the status quo…who spend hours encouraging…grading…challenging…to reach beyond…to reach for the stars.