Why I Teach

Posted by Mary Hendra on May 29, 2014

As teachers prepare for a Facing History seminar, we ask them (you) to ground us all by thinking about why each of us chooses to teach. Below is an excerpt from Alice Reich, sharing "Why I Teach."

I recently had the opportunity to think about why I teach, and I took the time to articulate the good things about teaching, to sharpen a vision toward which I can move. I am aware of the aspects of the profession that threaten to shrink the soul, such as the insufficient resources of every kind going all too frequently to the wrong places. And I do upon occasion despair about the meaning of what I do. But I keep teaching, because it is, for me, the practice of what it means to be human, to have a voice that names the world in relation to one's own experiences.

When I began teaching, I knew what some of my goals were, but I had very few ideas about how to achieve them. I wanted to make students active rather than passive members of their culture. I wanted them to see that to be human is to be a creator as well as a creature of the world.  I wanted them to understand that the conditions of our own humanity are the conditions of humanity as a whole, that we are essentially no freer than the least free among us, that our well-being is dependent upon the well-being of others. I wanted them to believe that if they accepted those premises, they could and must work to make a better world.

But how does one teach that? Click here to read the rest of Alice Reich's article.

Share your own thoughts about why you teach by posting a comment below.

Did any element of Reich's narrative resonate with you today? What is it that enticed you to start teaching? What keeps you coming back to your students every year, despite the challenges of the economy, the changes in the profession, and other external factors that can threaten to dampen our enthusiasm?

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