December 9th, 2010

Sculpting: An Inspiring Metaphor


What can I offer this week, which for many is one of the busiest weeks of the semester? It is such stressful time for teachers and students—everybody gets tired, even the best of us get cranky. I know what many teachers would love to have: a grading machine, delivered overnight with no assembly required.

Minus the grading machine, I’m thinking what teachers might need at a the moment is a bit of inspiration, a reminder that even though this work is hard and tedious and seems endless, especially this week, it is work that matters very much. And here’s a quote that offers just that sort of gift.

Every man or woman who ever accomplished anything magnificent was touched, somewhere, sometime by a teacher. Every teacher then may turn out to have been the teacher of a magnificent man or woman. Even the not-so-magnificent men and women of the world, however, are touched by teachers. Some people achieve immortality by building monuments or writing books or painting pictures or sculpting marble. We teachers achieve immortality by sculpting lives.

I know it probably doesn’t feel like you’re making much of a statue this week, but keep chipping away and when the semester finally is over you can stand back and admire how much you accomplished this semester.

The quote appears in an article, “The Joys of College Teaching,” written by Peter G. Beidler. It was published in the Phi Kappa Phi Journal. I can’t tell you when. When I first started collecting articles I wasn’t always careful about affixing dates, but my copy is on paper that has yellowed.