The Most Important Lesson of All

“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” –Bob Talbert

Teachers don’t get enough credit. And yet, I think they are the most important people in our society.

Teacher-weWhy? Some might say it’s because they are responsible for teaching children the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic; or because we could not have brain surgeons, award winning writers, or inventors without teachers. The truest answer though, is that teachers are the guardians of who we are as a society. You are our partners in teaching our children the most important lesson of all – CHARACTER.

I am a father of two: one at the university and the other in secondary school. I know firsthand the work that has gone into getting them this far.

Let me tell you a story about my son. Now a 2nd year university student, he is quiet, serious, down-to-earth, and a responsible minded realist. Since he was a little boy, he always seemed to have a pretty clear view of what he wanted in life. He never got into any serious trouble. Then one day, I received an unusual call from his school. He was in standard six. The deputy school head, also the discipline master, needed to see us urgently.

At the meeting, I was stunned to learn that my son had become the class clown; the one who gave teachers the parting shot to great applause from his peers. I was in for another shock when his class diary was produced. He had failed to bring it home for several weeks, feigning forgetfulness. The reason was now clear. In the diary were several desperate messages from the class teacher, written in red ink. She had indicated things were getting out of control, and had requested to meet us.

As parents, we had had some concern over our son’s falling grades. Now we were more concerned that we had missed something even more important. We may have been oblivious to the changes he was going through in his transition to his teen years, possibly because we hadn’t noticed any inconsistency in his behavior at home.

Someone had noticed though – his teachers. And because his teachers cared enough to notice and bring this to our attention we were able to give him the guidance and support he needed.

In only a few months, our son went through a complete makeover. His personality, his grades, his involvement in sports… A few months later while taking a nature walk on a sunny Sunday morning, he slowed and turned to us.

“Thank you, Mum and Dad,” he said.

His mother and I looked at each other. Thanks for what?

“You have helped me take the right turn in my life. You have helped me find myself.”

You have helped me find myself!

He went ahead to score top marks in the final primary and secondary school exams, earning him a place at the university to pursue his dream course.

One thing is certain; this could not have been achieved without teachers who cared.

Teachers don’t get enough credit. They don’t just teach kids how to count; they also offer kids the chance to learn the most important of all lessons: what counts.

I know firsthand.

©2014 David Waweru. Retold from the book Champion by David Waweru, published by WordAlive Publishers, Nairobi, Kenya.