Today is BYU’s Major Fair. It will take place from 9:30am – 3:30pm in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for students to explore a variety of majors, and it is designed to help them discover what interests them and what they would like to study. To celebrate this important event, I felt it appropriate to list and expound upon three reasons why I think everyone should consider pursuing a career in education.
1. Teaching is the noblest of all professions.
David O. McKay, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “In the light of self-evident facts, is it not apparent to every thinking mind that the noblest of all noble professions is that of teaching, that upon the effectiveness of that teaching hangs the destiny of nations?” Aristotle similarly stated, “All who have meditated upon the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends upon the education of youth.” I believe with all of my heart that this is true. Children are voracious learners and are extremely observant. Their minds are exceedingly impressionable, and it is during the crucial early years of life that children develop the habits and behaviors that will eventually become who they are. Teachers have the unique and privileged opportunity to mold the minds of youth. They can implant into their minds not only the academic knowledge that will help them succeed in the workforce but also the timeless truths that will enable them to apply their secular knowledge with unyielding moral strength. There is no nobler endeavor than this!
2. Children and youth need more positive role models.
Last year, I had a very unique opportunity. I was invited by an elementary school principal to do a presentation at a school assembly to celebrate Red Ribbon Week. Because of the Avengers craze that had recently swept over the country, I decided to make superheroes the theme of the presentation. I invited a good friend to assist me, and we entered the school’s gymnasium dressed up as Superman and Captain America. You’d have thought that we were Justin Bieber walking into an arena full of teenage girls! The kids went WILD! They were so excited that real superheroes were in their midst. For the presentation, we spotlighted several of our “friends” such as Ironman, Spiderman, the Hulk, and Thor, and we talked about important attributes that each of these heroes exemplified. Afterwards we had the opportunity to “high five” all the kids as they exited the gym, and I wish I had a dollar for every time a kid told me that I was his hero! Children are always looking for heroes to look up to. Who better than their school teacher? The number of positive role models in the world is diminishing. Children need people to admire who exemplify Christ-like attributes, and teachers have a perfect opportunity to be that role model in the lives of their students.
3. You can change thousands of lives for the better.
Mrs. Shirley Spencer was my 7th grade Math and English teacher. I will remember and appreciate her for the rest of my life. To this day I remember so many of the little jingles and rhymes she taught her students to help them learn and recall concepts. However, she taught me so much more than educational rhymes and jingles; she taught me how to be a better person. I remember one day in class when I said something very unkind to a friend of mine. She was deeply offended and told her mother after school. Her mother, very upset, called Mrs. Spencer that evening. The next day, I received two detentions along with a piece of my teacher’s mind. The worst part of that punishment was not the detentions but rather that I had disappointed someone whom I loved and admired. When I reported to the classroom for my first detention, I expected to face a stern, disappointed teacher. Instead, I found the same cheerful, loving woman I had come to love so much. Rather than make me write “I will not say unkind things to others” on the board a few hundred times, she spent my detention time talking to me about what I’d learned from my mistake. She recognized and capitalized on an opportunity to teach me something important that would leave a far deeper impression on me than a punishment would have. As important as it was to her to fill her students’ minds with academic knowledge, it was more important that her students developed strong moral character. Every teacher can have the same influence on their students as Mrs. Spencer had on me, an impact that children will feel for the rest of their lives.
How have teachers throughout your life impacted you?
For those of you who have already decided to pursue a career in education, what influenced your decision?