“I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher:
The tools she used were books and music and art;
One was a parent
With a guiding hand and gentle loving heart.
And when at last their work was done,
They were proud of what they’d wrought.
For the things they had worked into the child
Could never be sold or bought!
And each agreed they would have failed
If they had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school,
And behind the teacher stood the home!
I received this poem from my son’s new first-grade teacher on back-to-school night, and it reminded
me of something I’ve been thinking about for a while now: The notion that I find it almost impossible to imagine who my children would be today without their teachers.
I’m a big believer in the importance of family. And in our family, we work hard to strengthen values like generosity, gratitude and
exploration. We take a lot of responsibility for building academic and critical thinking skills, too, and always seem to be reading or talking about some new idea.
But as much as we do at home, I know that I cannot claim all the credit for who my children are today.
As the poem expresses, my children have been dramatically shaped by their teachers. In Southern California, they attended a Montessori
school that did a lot to build the reading and math skills they have today.
At a Montessori school here in Texas, Hunter’s wonderful teachers worked lovingly to help him begin to become more disciplined, learning
to take responsibility for his own work and success. And his kindergarten teacher last year continued that work, while also pushing him to read better, and to become more of a leader in the classroom, showing kindness and support to others.
Hannah has been equally blessed by her teachers. In kindergarten, she had a teacher who was an absolute master at differentiation,
helping her to continue to build her reading, writing and critical thinking skills, while also giving her an opportunity to help support less skilled
students. She also just legitimately loved Hannah for the unique, thoughtful person she is, and gave her outlets to express herself.
In first grade, my inquisitive girl had a teacher who loved science, and talked about her travels and work on a ranch. Now, Hannah has
adopted some of the same interests and talks about the day she will walk through windy streets in London or go zip-lining through a rainforest in a remote part of Africa. New worlds were opened for Hannah last year, and I can’t wait to see where this all leads her.
It is true that our kids do mirror us – their parents. And they should, in many ways, be influenced by who we are and all that we teach and
model for them. But I’m thankful that they also have the influence of other “sculptors” – teachers, coaches, friends and others – who invest in them, expose them to information and experiences I may not have, and guide them and love them in ways that look different from the way I might do it.
Together, I think we make a pretty good team ….