Being a Teacher…


One of a few pleasures that a teacher can get from her work is the gratitude of her students, and this is an award which is never easy to deserve. Something just reminded me of a beautiful letter which Albert Camus had written to his best teacher and I thought, what a wonderful reward for the years of untiring effort, which remains invisible until your student himself becomes a worthy person.

Dear Monsieur Germain,

I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honour, one I neither sought nor solicited.

But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened.

I don’t make too much of this sort of honour. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.

Albert Camus

The work of the teacher, as well as the work of the mother, becomes visible years later, when our students grow up ans begin to share their knowledge and experiences with others. It means that, whatever we, teachers, put into a student’s mind, remains there through decades and never stops to influence the developing personality. Isn’t it a huge – inspiring and frightening – responsibility?

It is to me. Teachers, like doctors, have human lives in their hands. They make an injection of knowledge into the mind of each student they meet in the classroom. Depending on the quality of the injection, the student will either become enriched or miserable. Well, the only thing I know for sure is that I refuse to be the kind of a teacher who uses placebo “pills” and “injections”, which never provoke thinking of any kind.

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