Are you a teacher all the time?

“A teacher sees the world in a par­tic­u­lar way, and it is not only when he is in a school. I am a teacher all the time.” (Christopher Rogers)

This quote is what I use as a signature in my personal emails. I got it from a blog I read  about a month ago – sorry, can’t remember whose blog, or where, just remembered to get who wrote it so as to rightfully credit it. I chose it as my signature because it speaks to me, I strongly relate to it (my previous quote was “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius). I am a teacher all the time, it’s not just something I “turn on” when I am working. I see ideas for activities everywhere: something people next to me are talking about – yes, I eavesdrop, sue me -, a song I listen to, a controversial piece of news, an advertising or commercial I see, things that happen to me… Well, that’s not exactly new to teachers, is it? I think in one way or another we all do this – some more intensely than others, but we all do it.

No..that's not my daughter :-)

What got me thinking about this, and wondering whether this was a good or a bad thing was something that happened this past week. I was sitting on my computer, working, and my 9-year-old daughter was showing me her homework. She’s not what you’d call a great, committed student. She finds studying boring, almost a waste of time (yes, I do believe God is trying to teach me some lesson by making my daughter this way about studying – still trying to figure out what though. So far it has only aggravated me). And so, I was doing my motherly duty of checking her homework before she went to bed. As I read it, I noticed she had answered a “Why?” question with one word. So I told her she had to rewrite that, because just a word was not good enough, she had to give a complete answer (even though the word she had written was the key of the answer), express herself more thoroughly. As I was saying this the nanny was passing by and she said: “Yeah Gabi, it’s not easy being the daughter of a teacher…”. And that got me thinking. Am I being a teacher to my daughter, instead of a mother? Would a regular non-teacher mother require the same kind of work I do? Am I putting an extra strain on my daughter’s work?

And as I kept reflecting upon this, I suddenly became aware I do that in so may other aspects of my life. for instance, whenever somebody asks me how to pronounce a word in English (I’m talking about a friend. or a relative) I don’t flat out say it – I ask the person “How do you think it’s pronounced? Are there any other words spelled similarly you can remember?”. I try to make the person discover the pronunciation on her/his own. You know, avoiding spoon-feeding. Or if someone doesn’t know how to use a program or to program the TV… I don’t just go there and do it. I assist the person at doing it, giving some instructions but mostly helping the person infer, try it. I also catch myself (more often than I would like)  correcting people’s speech or something I read in my mind – looking for structure/grammar accuracy, better word-choice…

Now I have to admit realizing what I’ve been doing to everyone (who’s not a student of mine) around me made me quiver. I mean, it has to be annoying. Since then I have been making a conscient effort of controling myself and avoiding that. I don’t think I have been very successful at that, but at least I am trying. But at the same time, should I control myself? Is it really that bad?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… Do you behave like this too? Do you think it’s bad, that it should be avoided/controled?