Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why I teach

Note: Mr. Weber shared this reflection with the faculty of JPII at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year.

In his famous sonnet that begins "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?", Shakespeare has a wonderful line that resonates with us all:

"Summer's lease 
hath all too short a date."

Yes, it does!

Still, it's good to be back together with you.

Many of you many know that John Wooden died this summer. He was the greatest basketball coach of all time—few informed persons would argue that point. His U.C.L.A. teams won 10 national championships in a 12 year span, including an unprecedented 88 straight games (before losing to Notre Dame to end the streak.) During that entire run, including his 10th national championship season, he never made more than $35,000, and he never once asked for a raise!

What is less known is that he began his career as a high school English teacher. He taught and coached in relative obscurity before moving into college coaching, and would later comment that he missed the classroom teaching. When asked once by a reporter why he was so fond of teaching, he quoted this little known poem by Glennice Harmon, which I thought appropriate to begin our year together:

They ask me why I teach
And I reply, "Where could I find more splendid company?"

There sits a statesman,
 Strong, unbiased, wise,

Another later Webster, silver-tongued.

And there a doctor, Whose quick, steady hand

Can mend a bone or stem the lifeblood's flow.

A builder sits beside him -- 
Upward rise the arches of that church he builds wherein

That minister will speak the word of God,

And lead a stumbling soul to touch the Christ.

And all about
--A lesser gathering
 of farmers, merchants, teachers,
 laborers, men

Who work and vote and build

And plan and pray into a great tomorrow.

And, I say,
 "I may not see the church,
 or hear the word,
 or eat the food their hands will grow."

And yet -- I may.

And later I may say, 
"I knew the lad, and he was strong,

Or weak, or kind, or proud

Or bold or gay.

I knew him once,

But then he was a boy."

They ask my why I teach and I reply,

"Where could I find more splendid company?"

We are blessed to be teachers here. May we always be thankful for the splendid company we keep.

1 comment:

Debor said...

What a beautiful poem! And it so eloquently expresses what I would like to convey to those who don't understand about our profession.