Because we’re headed toward Thanksgiving, and because we are thankful for you and what you do always, I want to share a list that was my entire keynote at the Stratford (Ontario) Festival’s annual fall education conference last month. My list/talk was—of course—about teachers.
PEGGY O’BRIEN’S TEN ABSOLUTE TRUTHS ABOUT TEACHERS
- You have the most important job on earth. Period. More important than what any brilliantly talented actor or director or anybody does in the Festival, or any scientist in any lab, or any government official in any country. You have the most important jobs on earth.
- The work you do is hard, hard work.
- And it’s not a solitary activity. The more we collaborate, the more we learn and the better we get.
- You have to put up with all kinds of people who are “experts” in K-12 education—policy makers, parents, textbook publishers, whomever—experts because they too went through those grades. Sigh.
- Your classroom is where the magic happens, and that’s because you are dedicated, and creative and funny. Don’t give that up.
- Some people who teach are lovely people but they just shouldn’t be teachers. They should have another kind of job because they’re not so good at teaching.
- Good teachers take risks. All the time. And partly that’s because you are always looking for a better way to do it, another way to get to that kid.
- People who think that teachers finish up work everyday at 2:30 or 3:00 and have their weekends off and summers off are complete idiots.
- You don’t just teach literature, grammar, drama. You teach curiosity, respect, the excitement and discipline of learning, the leading of a good life. You show what the light inside a good person looks like.
- What you are asked to do—in a school, in your classroom—every day is absolutely impossible. And you do it, every single day.
The Folger Shakespeare Library—a place stuffed with endless rare books and manuscripts, a bumping theatre, lots of scholars, curators, digital geeks, and teachers—all of the Folger Library is thankful for you this month, and every day of every year.
We hope you can put your feet up over this holiday. (Maybe your sister and brother-in-law are cooking this year?!) All of us here wish you peace and give you thanks.