Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Forget The Kids

It has been so reassuring. Out of the blue one or two past students find me on Facebook or runs into me on the train, and I am riveted with amazing memories. The other day a former student contacted me and it prompted me to reread the over 300 letters I have saved from former students. Put simply, teaching happens when you close the door to your classroom and develop nurturing relationships with your students. I am so grateful, right now especially for these memories, that I wanted to share this letter with you. The writer of the excerpt from this letter written in 2006, has now graduated from the University of Chicago.

Dear Mr. Flaherty,

I keep rereading the letter you have given us and I am more moved and touched each time I read it. I feel that I did not have adequate time to communicate to you before. Very seldom in my life have I been blessed to have met a teacher as humble and inspiring as you. Teachers have always been authority figures for me and there always stood a barrier between us in terms of communication. With you, that barrier was broken and I feel that, more than a teacher, I had a friend in you and a fellow seeker of knowledge. I am a very emotional person and as graduation approaches I am even more fragile; that is why it is difficult for me to express to you in person how appreciative I am of everything you have done for me.

Many teachers have touched my life, but I feel that only you will forever stay in my thoughts because your methods of thinking and your courage have become a part of me. You have lit me up and led me to extract my true identity from the bottom of my soul, where it was hidden for many years. It is because of your instruction that I have come to terms with myself and that I finally accept my place and purpose in the world. I feel that, as a result of the conversatons that took place in our classroom and your personal stories, I have come to participate in the world and to question and challenge the things I am a witness to on a daily basis. I feel that my life is more fulfilled as a result of your teaching. I am no longer afraid to stand up for my ideas and to speak up when I witness something that disturbs me. I have become not only a participant, but also an activist in the world as a result of your influence. It amazes me how you constantly evaluate yourself and your surroundings. I have come to do the same and, although it can be disappointing at times because our world is full of injustices, it is also healthy for my spirit. I cannot thank you enough for the wisdom you have given me and for opening my eyes to the world. You have truly enlightened me. I think that it is becuase of you that I am not afraid to step into the world. Most importantly, I am aware of the danger of silence and the importance of action.

I know that your class has touched more than one individual and I see the evidence every day. My classmates and I never discussed our learning beyond the classroom, yet this year you could hear us talking and participating in discussons that came directly from our Theory of Knowledge classroom. It was the only class that truly had meaning for us. I know we are thankful for the feedback. You made me feel important and have given importance to my work...

How lucky I am to have known this young woman and the many other students who came into my classroom and left more ready for the world.

1 comment:

  1. Andy, what a wonderful letter to receive. It makes me feel as tho I should reach out to the few instructors who shaped me.