Please teacher, be kind

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Phyllis Post
For the Salisbury Post
At the beginning of the school year, I could always count on reading my mom’s “back to school” column. The one dedicated to teachers as we send our children off to school for the first time.
I love that column. And it has been on my mind in the last couple of weeks.
As I re-read mom’s column, I am still touched ó but I have a different point of view. For me, the column is about change. This year, mom will not write that her grandson, John Rust, will enter the first grade – or that Bennett Clark will enter kindergarten.
And as my daughter, Hannah, enters her senior year in high school, many of her friends have headed off to college.
And I think of mom’s column. It is about seeing our children, whatever their age, grow and move forward. About our hopes that we’ve taught them what they need to know as they move beyond our world. About our hopes that their new teachers, both in and out of their classrooms, are gentle as they make their way.
I am grateful that I have had several long conversations with mom about my new thoughts about her old column. As you can see from this introduction, I am no Rose Post, but I am glad to see her column again as this school year begins.
Mom wrote….
I always knew the real story was about your child, my child, all the little ones who were just beginning, going off to school for the first time, one at a time. And I always wanted to tell the teacher …
Then one day I discovered that a principal in Franklin, Ind., whose name I didn’t know, had already told the teacher exactly what I wanted to say, so I let him say it again for us. He wrote:
My son starts to school this week.
It’s all going to be strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently.
Up to now he’s been boss of the backyard. I have always been around to repair his wounds, and I’ve always been handy to sooth his feelings.
But now …
Things are going to be different.
This morning he’s going to walk down the front steps, wave his hands and start on his great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow.
To live his life in the world will require faith and love and courage. So, teacher, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know.
Teach him, but gently if you can.
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.
Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero. For every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick.
Teach him the wonders of books. Give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill.
Teach him about the world of work. Teach him that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men, but to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and to take only the truth that comes through.
Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidder, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears in a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right.
Teach him gently, but don’t cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
This is a big order, teacher, but see what you can do. He’s such a nice little fellow, my son.

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