Beginning this past week, all across the country, students have returned to school. Feelings of excitement mixed with a tinge of stress are ubiquitous for both children and their families as rhythms of summer are replaced by the rhythms of the school year. One question that is especially on the mind of every younger child as he or she begins school is, “Who’s my teacher going to be this year?” Parents, along with their children, are hoping that their children get the teacher they desire.
For most of the readers of this column, it’s probably been a few years since you have started a new school year. However, I invite you to think of the question, “Who’s Your Teacher?” as it applies to you in your adult life.
We may not be in school any more, but we are learning our whole lives. Life is our classroom and the potential lessons are limitless. As you reflect on your own life right now, who are you learning from? What teacher or teachers are you seeking to learn from? What lessons are you wanting to learn from this teacher or teachers? There is an old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will arise. What in life are your ready to learn right now? Who will you learn it from?
In this classroom called life we are all students and we are all teachers. We are all lifelong learners. We turn to our friends, family members, mentors, colleagues, pastors, rabbis, coaches, therapists, and others to be our teachers. And along the way, others turn to us to be their teachers as well.
We often turn to someone to be our teacher who has more experience in what it is we need to learn. This is often someone who has already been where we are going. A parent turns to other parents, especially those with more experience, to learn from their wisdom. A person struggling with a cancer diagnosis turns to other cancer survivors to learn from their life experience. A person wanting to deepen their spiritual life turns to their faith leader and members of their faith community to learn from and be inspired by their faith journeys. A person starting out in their career turns to a respected leader in their field. A singer hires a voice teacher and joins a choir. A person wanting to start exercising takes a fitness class or joins a fitness club. A reader joins a book group.
When we were school children we did not have a great deal of say about who our teacher was. As adults though, we get to choose who our teachers will be. Choosing our teachers is very important. And just as important is being humble enough to acknowledge that there is always more for us to learn. To be a lifelong learner is to relish the fact that our awareness and consciousness is always expanding.
So who are your teachers right now? As you think about who your teachers are right now, also think about whether you are looking for an additional teacher or perhaps an additional learning community at this point in your life. If so, this time of year is a great time to make a change.
And so to all the students out there, both young learners and lifelong learners, “Happy back to school!”
This column originally appeared several years ago and is being repeated with some updates this week as Scott is on vacation.