What is a teacher?

What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.

Paul Coelho

It is the start of a new term for me today and I’m looking forward to seeing all my students again. I’d like to kick off the blog in 2020 thinking about what the role of a teacher actually is.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a teacher as someone who “instructs or trains others” and Wikipedia states that a teacher “helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue”.

This is certainly true! But, for me, teaching goes beyond instruction and giving out facts. It hopefully inspires and encourages students to achieve their best and lights the spark of learning. As William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”.

Isn’t it great when you teach a student something and they have been inspired to take a few more steps forward than you asked them to? I love it when students have turned the page in their book, for example, and tried the next piece, or gone and researched a bit more about a certain composer or style of music.

What is the role of a teacher to you? Here are a few more quotes for inspiration.

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instil a love of learning

Brad Henry

The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth

Dan Rather

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery

Mark Van Doren

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires

William Ward

I am not a teacher, but an awakener

Robert Frost

It takes a big heart to help shape little minds


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