Monday, September 24, 2007

Praeceptores suos adulescens veneratur et suspicit

Unfortunately, my Latin is better than my German. Equally unfortunate: I can't tell you a damn thing about Seneca.

However, I can tell you exactly why Seneca uttered this famous phrase--men and women like my former Latin professor.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into my former Latin professor, a man that can only be explained by his genuine kindness and amazing sense of humor, and I found myself wishing certain aspects of my academic career would have gone another way. I didn't have the chance to complete the Latin course with this fine instructor, but that didn't end my Latin studies. Had this been any other instructor, perhaps one that didn't seem to notice I bothered to show up to class, I may have ended my Latin studies indefinitely as most college sophomores would. Fortunately, I didn't.

There have been many, many times throughout the last four years that things could have gone another way. Had there been a gentle, direction-giving mentor who challenged me in the ways students like me need to be challenged, I could be student teaching right now and preparing for a career in Special Education. Weird thought. Instead that gentle, direction-giving mentor who challenged me (and continues to challenge me) was an English professor who helped me to realize that you have to do what you love, not just what is comfortable.

Last night I was on the phone with my younger brother, helping him cram for a history test covering the French Revolution, and he made the comment that if his teacher cared a little more about the subject it might then make him care a little bit more about it, too. This, I truly believe, has everything to do with a young man wanting to coach, therefore taking a position as a history teacher as his day job. No offense to my teacher friends who also coach and do a fine job of both.

I digress...what our conversation last night really solidified in my mind is the distinct difference between my brother and I as students. I have had unbelievably supportive, concerned, and motivating teachers and professors who have deserved my trust and admiration. Additionally, they have challenged me and have made me care about the subjects they teach. This has not only made my educational experience much more pleasant, it has made me a much better student. On the contrary, my brother has had one teacher thus far in his academic career that has truly cared about him. I know this because she was my teacher once, too. It has been a long time since second grade and he is due for a superb educator in his life.

Fortunately, it isn't necessary for me to know anything about Seneca because I understand what his famous phrase means. I understand it both because I believe what he is saying and because I know some educators don't take the responsibility of his words seriously enough.

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