Mortimer Adler, the respected American philosopher and educator, points out that the ancients compared teaching to the ancient craft of the midwife. Just as the midwife assists the body to give birth to new life, so a teacher assists the mind to deliver itself of ideas, knowledge, and understanding. The essential notion here is that teaching is a humble, helping art. The teacher does not produce knowledge – not even grammatical foreign-language knowledge of vocabulary, syntax, or how to write the perfect college entrance essay, etc. – and neither does the effective teacher simply stuff ideas into an empty, passive mind.
Aristotle calls medicine and agriculture cooperative arts, because they work with nature to achieve results that nature is able to produce by itself. Shoes and houses would not exist unless men produced them; but the living body attains health without the intervention of doctors, and plants and animals grow without the aid of farmers. The skilled physician or farmer, like the effective teacher with respect to learning, simply makes health or growth more certain and regular.
Everybody I know and have worked with at Educa-System and, for businesses, Educa-Training, would certainly agree with Adler when he says that teaching is a cooperative art which helps nature do what it can do itself. Of course our students can and do learn without the aid of a teacher. But the process of learning is made more certain and less painful with Educa-System professors. Our methodical, informed guidance makes the learning of our students easier and more effective.
It only remains to wonder how the ancients would judge the sometimes solitary work of a modern-day Educa-System professor. Maybe they would not judge it perfect, but they would certainly marvel and applaud the efficiency and effectiveness, the high-calling, the secret labors, and the undetected and undetectable moments of brilliance that occur at desk-after-student desk of our many students. And perhaps as much as anything else, they would marvel at the accessibility and economic feasibility of private instruction for an ever-widening sector of the global population. Sure, much work remains, but at the same time, we have come a long way.
Apart from receiving an economic sustenance commensurate with local market conditions and the satisfaction of contributing to the overall welfare of the planet, student growth is perhaps the most suitable reward for such a labor of love. As Adler points out and as I would proffer all teachers to consider again and again, “Teaching is devoted to the good of others. It is an act of supreme generosity.”
Teachers: keep your spirits up!
José Luis Razo