“Don’t leave anything but your footsteps!”
I saw this quotation on signposts along the footpath that leads to a famous waterfall in Malaysia. As I pondered upon the words of this line, I couldn’t help but be influenced by its implication for teachers.
Without doubt, the statement is an appeal to people, encouraging and calling them to keep the surrounding of the waterfall clean and tidy. It is obvious that visitors to this waterfall haven’t been friendly enough to its surrounding. Often times, they have caused damage to its beauty. Plastic and paper bags, bottles and cans, broomsticks, rotten food, etc., were some of the few items that I personally saw, thrown away without care and concern, during my visit to the waterfall. People do this in spite of having garbage disposal bins every few meters along the footpath.
Teachers affect students for eternity – they will never know where their influence ends! Teachers invariably leave footprints on students. They affect students’ way of thinking, their behavior, aspiration, emotion, spirituality, and every other aspects of life. The mere presence of a teacher changes the very being of an individual student. The experiences exchanged by both teachers and students help them to leave indelible mark on each other.
However, we often notice instances where teachers leave more than footprints. Just like the dirt and unwanted items disposed carelessly by visitors at the waterfall, teachers often hurl harmful, unkind, impolite, unloving, and uncaring words, actions, and thoughts at students. These significantly damage the ‘beauty’ that is inherent in each individual student. Many individuals become nasty and irresponsible because much of such negativity was hurled at them at school, by teachers whom they respected and desired to please.
The hurt that teachers cause students is more harmful than the ones caused by any other people. This fact is justifiable because students look up to their teachers and expect them to be loving, kind, and caring while teaching them about life and everything else. Students feel deceived when teachers do just the opposite and communicate authority, indifference, unkindness, and above all, hatred.
Let us remember, as teachers, that we are called to leave footprints and nothing more or less. Our footprints should be in the form of nurturing interactions and relationships that promote the holistic well-being of students. Failing to do this means that we are willing to consciously damage the lives of individuals who seek our guidance and care.
Students trust that their teachers will change them for the best! (not just for the better)
Copyright July 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com
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