This week another Kiwi child has been murdered by an adult
caregiver; a group of adolescents has been forced to face the
consequences of their drunken brutality; highly-paid professionals
have been duped by a slick-talking counterfeiter; there have
been two more school massacres overseas; more Israeli-Palestinian
violence has begat yet more awful violence. Instead of asking
‘What is a good teacher?’ it seemed opportune to revisit the
question ‘Why teach?’ This excerpt from Riane Eisler’s book
Tomorrow’s children captured, without cant or cliche, the essence
of why many of us became teachers. Worth a thought...
"At the core of every child is an intact human. Children have
an enormous capacity for love, joy, creativity, and caring.
Children have a voracious curiosity, a hunger for understanding
and meaning. Children also have an acute inborn sense of fairness
and unfairness. Above all, children yearn for love and validation
and, given half a chance, are able to give them bountifully
"In today’s world of lightning-speed technological, economic,
and social flux, the development of these capacities is more
crucial than ever before. Children need to understand and appreciate
our natural habitat, our Mother Earth. They need to develop
their innate capacity for love and friendship, for caring and
caretaking, for creativity, for sensitivity to their own real
needs and those of others.
"In a time when the mass media are children’s first teachers
about the larger world, when children in the the United States
spend more time watching television than in any other activity,
children also need to understand that much of what they see
in television shows, films, and video games is counterfeit.
They need to understand that violence only begets violence and
solves nothing, that obtaining material goods, while necessary
for living, is not a worthy end in itself no matter how many
commercial messages to the contrary. They need to know that
suffering is real, that hurting people has terrible, often life-long,
consequences not matter how many cartoons and video games make
mayhem and brutality seem normal, exiting, and even funny. They
need to distinguish between being hyped up and feeling real
joy, between frantic fun and real pleasure, between healthy
questioning and indifference or cynicism.
"If today’s children are to find faith that’s grounded in reality,
they need a new vision of human nature and our place in the
unfolding drama of life on this Earth. If they are to retain
their essential humanity, they need to hold fast to their dreams,
rather than give in to the cynicism and me-firstism that is
today often considered "cool." They need all this
for themselves, but they also need it for their children, lest
they raise another generation X, a generation struggling in
this uncertain time to find identity and purpose and all too
often becoming lost.
"One of the greatest and most urgent challenges facing today’s
children relates to how they will nurture and educate tomorrow’s
children. Therein lies the real hope for our world."
EISLER, Riane (2000). Tomorrow’s children: A blueprint
for partnership education in the 21st Century. Boulder,
COL: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-6569-4 (pbk)