I have often quoted Fr. Pedro Ribadeneira, S.J. in speaking about the importance of teaching. He famously said this of teachers, "all the well-being of Christianity and of the whole world" depended on their work (Heroic Leadership, Lowney, pg. 208).
All the well-being of Christianity and of the whole world depends upon your work.
While at Church this past weekend, the homilist cited a study which stated that a person's moral compass is somewhat complete by age 5. In talking about the importance of the domestic Church, the priest argued for the families to be places of love, compassion, fairness, justice, forgiveness and humility.
As I listened to his words, I reflected upon our work with students through our PBIS system of student management and our philosophy of transforming discipline into the formation of disciples of Christ. According to the study mentioned above, our efforts are feeble. Little can be done to morally influence someone else.
Whether or not there was validity and / or reliability behind this research, we know that the life of a child at home is vital. We know that the number of words to which students are exposed by age 4 significantly impacts their development of language. We know that parents are the primary educators of their children and that the home, according to our Catechism, is the place where the virtues are taught and learned.
But, as Christians, we believe that people can change. Peter became the Rock. Saul became Paul. The blind man saw. The deaf man heard. The deceased girl lived. Lazarus came out of the tomb. Christ conquered sin and death.
We believe in a God of miracles. We believe that the Christian walk is highlighted by formation. We believe that through Lenten journeys and retreats and prayer and reflection we can strengthen our hearts and become better than we were yesterday, last month, last year or last decade.
We can change.
In turn, the work that we do with students can help them to change. We take students from ignorance to understanding. We move them from incompetence to fluency. We transition students from unable to skilled. We take them from good to better. We form them from misguided to led.
We do the most important work in the world.
You do the most important work in the world. Ever day. With every student. Through ever interaction and every miraculous moment you spend with them.
You change the world.
Because you are a teacher.