I am thrilled to post a new personal history from Israel! The story is generously given to us by a distinguished lecturer and scriptwriter, Dr. Yitzchak Enav-Winehouse. Enjoy! And please leave many nice comments since I hope to persuade Dr. Enav-Winehouse to send us more...
WHO ARE YOU, TEACHER?
Ever since I can remember myself, I have taught much but learnt so much more from my teaching. It all began a long, long time ago and in another country. I was then no more than a naive, twelve year old and there, wide-eyed in front of me were the “Kovshim,” the youngest age group in what is now the legendary Zionist youth movement of Hashomer Hatzair. The clubhousewas situated in the working class district of Hackney, the very heartland of Cockney London. These were kids who came from homes, like my own, where the only book to be found was a “sidur” or prayer book. They, like myself, would learn, in a movement which seethed with intellectual activity, of the worth and intoxication of reading.
As their "madrich" I ran with those kids across the English countryside, wove legends with them about new-born Israel and dreamt dreams of the kibbutz and its ultimate in social perfection. As I ran and grew with them, I learnt two important things about myself and about the teacher bud bursting within me; these ideas that have not changed though age has snowed white hair on me. One is that if he wishes to touch their soul at some point, a teacher must in some profound way really love those brats in front of him ; the second thing I came to understand was that there is little in life that is quite equal to the sheer intoxication of ten, twenty or fifty sets of eyes lifted up to see and to hear what you have to say to them.
It is, perhaps, the combination of these two elements: the love of one's students and an unashamed, mildly narcissistic love of yourself that determines one’s basic attitude towards teaching. Teaching is about affection, empathy, feeling and listening but it is also powered by the ridiculously romantic conviction that you possess the magical power to persuade that little monster in Grade 6 that a knowledge of the Present Progressive in English studies, or, later on, the intricacies of the Shakespearian sonnet – that this learning will be as an Aladdin’s lamp in their hands opening sesame to all the doors of life. This need to give, this need to excite, this need to attract is what has given me an insatiable desire to know more and still more about the discipline I teach. I must be new, I must be fresh, I must surprise, if I am to continue winning the attention of my students.
So, teacher, and would-be teacher, unless you love the classroom with a passion (there were many years in which, when the summer months kept me away from teaching, that a mild depression took hold of me); unless a surge of adrenalin courses along your veins as your hand touches the classroom door you must get out of the profession. No long summer vacations, no pension rights or your long investment in training should keep you teaching. Get thee to a bank, where the pay is more than the shirt buttons offered to the teacher and the work there has, no doubt, its ratiocinated satisfactions.