Do you love what you do for a living? Do you love your job? Do you know people who do? A lot of metalworking shops are populated with talented individuals who obviously DO love what they do. They are gifted programmers, toolmakers, machinists, engineers and salespeople. They seem to get more out of their jobs than what they put in. And they may put in a great deal—long hours, extra effort, their best ideas, their fondest hopes. There isn't anything else they'd rather have as an occupation.
These are very lucky people. Most of them, I'll bet, can trace their good fortune to some individual from whom they learned something essential that enabled them to discover and nurture the love that led to their livelihood. Maybe it was a relative who had a shop or a basement workshop. Maybe it was an industrial arts or vocational ed teacher in junior high. Maybe it was a scout leader who was good at arts and crafts. Maybe it was a kind and generous employer or manager with an eye past the bottom line.
Chances are, the person who can identify this special teacher will admit that mastery of technique wasn't the great lesson this teacher imparted. No, it was probably something deeper than that. Somehow, this teacher managed to inspire and encourage. That's what is remembered as the crucial contribution, as the vital spark.
Inspire and encourage. Those are two important words. From their Latin roots, one means to breathe in as to give life, the other means to give heart. From life-breath and heart, of course, spring love. Find the people who are truly successful at finding fulfillment and happiness in their jobs, and you'll find that they are acting on this love. Whatever their occupation, they “live and breathe” it.
This is why it is so important that teachers, whether they are the ones in the classroom or anyone called upon to give lessons or instruction, need to remember that they are, above all, teaching love. The facts and figures, the do's and don'ts, the whys and wherefores have to be taught as well, for sure. But what makes the difference is touching the spirit and giving heart. Great teachers know that—and that is why they love teaching so much.
The new year will give us many opportunities to meet teachers or even to be teachers ourselves. Let us resolve to keep in mind what teaching is all about on the deepest level: teaching love.