Why Do You Teach?

February 2, 2014

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Someone asked me that recently in the office.  The conversation (the way I remember it now) went:

“Why do you teach in school & continue to teach here at work? Why are you always teaching?”

(In the blink of an eye with a smile on my face — knowing that the answer would be personal & instructive at the same time… or after dramatic pause as I take a breathe & the tricylces outside suddenly stop…  I actually don’t remember now)

“I teach because it’s a significant experience in my life.

Teachers have been some of the most influential people in my life. From school to work, I’ve been lucky to have people who were patient to teach me:  listened to me, allowed me to explore ideas (and make mistakes), explained to me (stuff about work & life), and treated me as if I was better than how I saw myself. How can I not do the same when I find the opportunity today?

Teaching has also been good for me (maybe even better for me than those who I’ve had the privilege to teach).  I’ve learned to listen better and communicate better. It’s allowed me to test my own ideas, ground them, and keep me honest about how I live my life.

And as I thought of it (for a split second) when the question was asked, teaching allowed me to give myself to others.  To me, that’s a great, fortunate and wonderful thing.  At the end of my classes in the Ateneo Graduate School, right after the last sentence I say as a teacher, I exhale deeply.  I let out a deep breathe coz I’m spent. I give everything I have and every life lesson I’ve learned and I’m empty. And I realize, I”m empty but not diminished. In fact, I’m quite full and I walk away feeling hopeful.

So thinking about it now, maybe the conversation should’ve gone this way:

 “So why do you teach?”

“I teach because it’s a significant experience of my life.  I teach because it’s my way of loving.”

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