The diversity of language and its functional and often poetic usage define the varied world cultures. Each one is complex in its structure of alphabet and phonetics, differentiated by country or even by region. All language stems from the ability to learn, an education of lifelong benefit that is often taken for granted. Learning at the rudimentary level, although not ordained by man’s system of law as a right, is however, fundamentally granted by virtue of humanity.
Appealing to the very cause of humanity should invoke the principle that all children regardless of social or financial status, or the color of skin and ethnic background, should be granted the opportunity of education – at least in the basic skills necessary to function in our rapidly changing world. Without guaranteed minimal scholarly advancement, the future of a child is uncertain, possibly becoming a liability to their place of residence, and eventually to the host government who will, in some instances, consequently be required to provide sole support. In my own time as an educator, there have been far too many cases of children failed by the particular education system and simply “falling through the cracks.”
For that reason, for the enrichment of the lives and minds of those who have somehow missed the opportunities granted to others, a position as an educator is for me a sincere desire. My education acquired thus far allows for personal growth and is greatly appreciated; however, those passions held for the enrichment of young lives outweigh any personal agenda.
Having experienced the educational systems of foreign locales with diverse curriculums and methodologies, similarities abound in the realm of neglect. Not in the abusive sense of the word, but found in the concept of students viewed as “numbers” instead of as the precious additions to our societies that they are. A familiar campaign slogan for education states “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” yet thousands of potential college students and graduates somehow slip through the bureaucratic fingers of education each and every year.
In the United States, each state has laws that govern the educational requirements for its teachers. Recent laws mandate the testing of educators to assure they qualify to teach on a level determined by the state. In contrast, countries desperate for even the least qualified of teachers would find classrooms filled with eager minds. Those state laws are yet another example of statistical requirements outweighing the fundamental need to produce educated minds, and not focusing on the important issues of cultivating individual self worth and personal achievement.
Education is defined as the gradual process of acquiring knowledge. That process is most effective if begun at a young age, as described in the example of the aforementioned infant, who learns each new phase of its life in a daily, step-by-step process, evolving into the walking and talking young child. That child must then learn the rudiments of knowledge accessed by the incorporation of more formal instruction, including written formulas. Should the educators of any society allow the omission of even one child? If not, what must be done to assure the equality of the learning environment; not just the assessment of numbers in attendance?
Such concerns plague the minds of educators the world over and are often met with opposition instead of cooperation from the system they have committed to serve. Criticisms are not empty words; however, they distract from and diminish the original motivations. But, as with all passions, there exists the negative narrative.
In closing, the desire to teach as mentioned outweighs all other options and motivations. The experiences of having successfully home-taught my own four children and my career as an educator practiced in several countries have defined and rekindled my passion for that field. After all those years acquainted with teaching, the inequity of those taught versus those forgotten has become a personal quest to somehow right that widespread wrong. Because I am not by origin a native English speaker myself, I consider that my perspective and extensive teaching experience in different schools and school types around the world – in cultures as diverse as Spain, Japan, Bahrain, Ecuador and others – has provided me with an “edge” and a better insight into the specific needs of minority and non-native English speaking students.
My tenure with the Modern Language department and the subsequent offer from the Linguistic department are indeed career milestones; however, it seems that I have a clear duty to perform in the area of expertise and delight which is that of a teacher. Not the typical teacher, not the type looking only towards the next payday, or the spring break; but fervently seeking the good and the potential in those otherwise turned away or failed by the system.
Education, in my humble definition, is the nurturing of something small and frail that needs special attention, like the master gardener who prunes the less effective growth in order to cultivate the blossoming strength into the mighty oak. For, just as the frail young seedling needs care and dedicated cultivation, a child requires attention – especially the less able, not only for emotional reassurance, but for the confirmation that he/she is reaching in the right direction.