Going Back to School

Thursday, 22 July, 2021 - 1:58 pm

This week’s Torah portion Va’etchanan, contains the section of the Shema that says, V’shinantamL’vanecha, meaning you shall teach your children. This phrase carries a double meaning: it can be interpreted that a teacher’s students are like their own children, in addition to the simple meaning of the phrase, that parents must teach their children.   


My children don’t enjoy going shopping these days because all they see in the stores are, “Back to school!” signs, while all they want to do is have fun in camp and play some more. However, teachers are not playing around now as they are preparing day in and out, thinking about the coming school year. What is it about teachers that they just don’t take a break—even outside of the classroom? 


Teachers have a few options when educating children. They can just stand up in front of their pupils and share information. They can teach only the curriculum. Or they can be very good at making sure that each child knows every single detail. They can sing songs, come up with creative ways for students to memorize information, write skits, and the list goes on. Another approach is when a teacher invests themselves in each and every student, finding a way to each individual’s mind and heart, to make sure that each student knows the information at their level. Sure, the first way can be very engaging, but one or more students may fall to the wayside. In the latter approach, not only do the students learn, they love what they learn, and they understand the information better, some deeper, some not, but each on their individual level. The main thing is that each student is enjoying learning the subject matter. 


What distinguishes one teacher from the next? How can a teacher put themselves in the mind frame to care about their students to such a degree that they put their heart and soul into each and every student? Are we asking too much?


If you view each child as if they are your very own child, then you are able to do so, since for your own child there is no task too difficult, no child unteachable, no effort too challenging. When we look at every child as an only child, as a gift from G-d, as a prize, then we are willing to jump through any hurdle to make the impossible possible.


This is how a teacher becomes not just a teacher, but becomes the student’s parent.


A parent too, must not be just a parent, but a teacher as well.

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