To The Great Teachers
I don't know why it took me so long to acknowledge this, but this week, I realized that we (that is, students) take teachers for granted. Now, I'm not talking about all teachers mind you (although I will admit that you must have at least one admirable quality to consider making a living sharing knowledge with others). There are all too many who act like their job is a nuisance and don't have time for even earnest students ready to learn. But there are just as many who treat it as not just a job but as a calling, and go out of their way to help students and instill love for the subjects they teach.
In an age where much of the world's information is literally at people's fingertips, one might think that teachers are becoming obsolete. If you don't understand a certain topic, you can read an article on Wikipedia or watch a video on Youtube to have it explained to you days before you return to the classroom. In fact, entire classes are conducted over the Internet, with students working entire semesters without ever once meeting their instructor in person. But yet, in spite of these huge strides in technology and education, people still feel the best way for themselves to learn is to physically attend a class where a teacher addresses them.
Perhaps this is because, at the end of the day, we're human, and when we do things, we prefer to do them with other humans, including learning. Granted, we don't have much choice in the matter for the first 12 or so years of our educational careers, but after you leave high school, you can conceivably live without ever setting foot in a classroom again. But millions do: indeed, millions choose to take classes for a myriad of reasons: business, pleasure, character-building. These are things you can easily do on your own, but the record number of young Americans enrolling in community colleges shows that a significant amount of people would rather not.
Instead, it seems people are more likely to want to learn in an clearly-structured environment where someone assigns them work and gives them feedback on what they turn in. While this can be taxing for some, it is rewarding for those who are genuinely interested in learning and having someone assess their mastery of material or a craft. Indeed, the best instructors are the ones who can actually make you look forward to not only doing homework or projects, but to reading or hearing what they have to say about them. Again, you can't always expect to have professors who go above and beyond (although to be fair, the same could be said of students), but you have to appreciate it when you do get such a stellar instructor.
As someone who is normally very cynical towards the education system as it currently exists, I can't help but feel a responsibility to recognize the work and effort of those great teachers who remind us why we're in school in the first place. We might have had no choice when we first started going to preschool or kindergarten, but it was our decision alone to carry on into college and beyond. If you think about it, the same could be said for teachers. When they had the chance to leave the occasionally-dull but always-rewarding world of academia behind, they chose to stay and help others still in it. That is something that not many people can say they did.