Fair warning: this may seem a bit irreverent. Cheeky, even. Let’s roll with it, shall we?
As far as I’m concerned, teachers qualify for sainthood. And I’m not quite using that in the figurative sense.
There are a number of ways to look at this, based on your particular perspective. I was raised Catholic so I often saw my time in the classroom — along with all the administrative crap that accompanied it — as years off purgatory. (Not sure what purgatory is? Google it. Fun concept.) I figured I could use all the help I could get with purification for heaven…
Buddhist? Well, classroom time definitely helps you gain enlightenment. That wisdom would help you achieve a better rebirth during reincarnation, because as far as I’m concerned teachers do nothing but gain merit with their charitable works day in and day out.
Confucianism states that the purpose of life is “to fulfill one’s role in society with propriety, honor, and loyalty.” Well, damn if that doesn’t sound like every teacher I’ve ever worked with! This religion doesn’t address an afterlife, but it sure does look like teachers are living up to their human life’s purpose under this philosophy.
Faith and Prayer, two of the five pillars of Islam, jump out at me as staples in a teacher’s life. I’ve never met an educator who isn’t going on faith that classroom needs will be met, students will participate in learning, they’ll have the strength to meet every child’s needs, and (let’s be honest) that they’ll be able to pay the bills that month on a ridiculously low salary. Prayer often plays a major factor in giving them the fortitude to face those classrooms day after day.
Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well…I’m struggling a bit with this one. Faith in Christ — I see a lot of that faith force demonstrated in a teacher’s fierce loyalty to her students. BUT…heaven for 144,000 chosen Witnesses, eternity on earth for other Witnesses, and total annihilation for all others? That’s harsh, man.
Teachers rock the New Age belief system. The Divine is “an impersonal life force that pervades all things.” If that doesn’t nail a teacher’s view of the sanctity of every child then I don’t know what does. Reincarnation in this one is based on karma, something which we all know teachers have in spades.
And then we have one of India’s faith traditions called Sikhism — teachers are knocking it out of the park here, too. “Overcome the self”? Absolutely. How many teachers do you know that are self-centered by nature? “Align life with the will of God”? I haven’t met many people who went into this profession for the prestige, power, or paycheck. Lastly, followers of the Sikh religion strive to become a “saint soldier, fighting for good.” Teachers fight for good every single day, and then they get up and come back to do it again.
I approached this post fervently exclaiming, “Teachers are saints!” Once I got going, though, I found it really interesting how many religions have principles that our teachers embody. They’re in there fighting the good fight every single day (and getting far too little recognition for it, in my humble opinion).
So…an extremely demanding job for very little money. Constantly putting in hours above and beyond their “work day.” (The very thought of a “work day” — ha!) Not nearly enough respect for their skills, education level, job requirements, or what they do for their students on a daily basis.
I’d say we’re kind of sucking out when it comes to rewarding teachers in this lifetime. (Unless you count the unlimited hugs from little people for elementary teachers.)
Existentially, though, it looks like teachers are racking up points. Shaving time off purgatory with the sheer vastness of their good deeds on earth. Educating our youth with honor and loyalty. Keeping the faith that, year after year, they’ll get what they need to help their students and find a way to survive in this career. Karma flourishing as they honor each child’s integrity.
I can’t say it enough — teaching is a calling, and a hard one to accept in a world where respect and recognition is measured by what you can physically see. But, if there’s any justice in the realm beyond this one, teachers will be some of the most revered beings around.
(Curious where I found a bunch of facts about various religions? A resource online called, honest to God, “The Big Religion Chart” that compares 45 religions and belief systems. You can check it out here if you’d like to read more.)