Teachers are the people who have the job of educating today’s youth. But it is so much more than a job. It is a calling, for those who would take on the responsibility of moulding and shaping the future. It is a profession for those brave souls who would stand before a room of fresh, untouched minds, and attempt to give to them a piece of your passion, not just for the subject but for learning itself.

A good teacher can impart knowledge, so that a student may learn, memorise, and form opinions. A great teacher can inspire, motivate and stimulate the mind, lifting their students to greater heights than they had ever dreamt possible. It is those people, those mentors and friends, that we look back upon and cherish. These people are milestones in our life, whether they are a school teacher, sport instructor, or merely a significant role model. They are some of the people who influence us the most.

The average teacher will spend 8 or so hours a day simply at school, not including lesson preparations, revising, drafting, and marking. It is one of the most demanding {occupation]s because the mental energy that goes into teaching takes its toll. Then there are those teachers who go beyond the call of duty. Those dedicated Heads of Department and Heads of House, those who voluntarily organise student councils, charity groups and leadership bodies. The teachers who mark English drafts when they get insomnia, those dedicated maths teachers who stay back after school to conduct tutorials when extra time is needed to get the point across. Then there are those who write entire textbooks as well as coordinate the grade’s preparation for the state’s standardised testing. There are those who will take the time to care not only about how a student is coping in the classroom, but how they are coping with life. To take a moment out of their day to say how much they appreciate the effort they have put into their studies, their leadership commitments, the community at large. These small things can make a huge difference.

Teachers must be humble, the best teachers are the ones who learn from their students, they are the ones whose minds are open enough that they can accept the possibility of change, of new ideas, of revolutionary concepts. The best teachers are always learning, they must never stagnate or fall into the trap of thinking they know everything. And they must try to pass on this humility and thirst for knowledge to their students.

I have had some fantastic teachers in high school, but the best teacher I ever had was my Year 4 teacher in primary school. One day, we were learning how to tell the time on an analogue clock, and I pointed out loudly how embarrassed I would be if someone were to walk into the classroom. I mean, I was reading classical literature and they couldn't read a clock. Gently, he took me aside and pointed out that some kids in the class weren’t as advanced as I was, and he put me with one of those kids and gave me the much more interesting task of helping her to understand. I learnt an important lesson about humility that day, and it has stayed with me ever since. And I discovered that a passion for passing on and receiving knowledge can overcome any barriers that might exist between teacher and student.

I would like to share with you now one of my favourite quotes, written by a famous writer on the martial arts, yet I believe it applies equally to all disciplines.

The Way is not static and dead.
Learn from the old Masters,
do not worship them.
Learn from the your teachers,
do not blindly follow them.
Learn from your students,
do not assume you know all the Truth.

- Elmar T. Schmeisser

Teachers must want to make a difference in the lives and futures of their students. Never underestimate or doubt the power you have to enthuse and inspire those around you. Through God, your positive influence can be a force of great impetus and change in the life of another. It is a serious responsibility to impart knowledge. To do so with talent, style, grace, intelligence, compassion and love should be what each teacher desires and strives for. Enjoy the moments that you are appreciated, you deserve every one of them.

Written in tribute of teachers for World Teacher's Day, 5th October.