Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/38

This page has been validated.
12
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

cidents of the schoolroom easily provoke the temper or the vanity, the jealousy or the rancor of the teacher. Who does not know what pitiless critics scholars are, how sharply they detect evidences of human weakness, and what severe standards they employ? Even parents are exposed to no such criticism. They are shielded, and presumptions are created in their favor which teachers do not enjoy. When it comes to demands upon character there is no profession and no relation in life which makes such heavy demands as teaching.

It would, of course, be absurd to make superhuman demands on teachers, and exaggerated demands could have no other effect than to discourage. Such is not the point to which my thoughts tend. On the contrary I have in mind, in what I say, the encouraging fact that a faithful teacher who is always trying to do the best possible is sure to enjoy a large measure of success of which he or she is not conscious. When I look back to my own school-days I know that two or three of my teachers had decisive effect upon my character and career, yet I have no reason to suppose that any one of them knew that it was so or was to be so. We had one teacher whom I never saw put in a difficult position but what he extricated himself from it in such a way that we all felt that that was just the right way to act in an emergency of that kind. That is the way in which character is educated by character. Its fruits are abundant, and the crop of them is produced over and over again for many a year afterwards, and it is planted and gathered by many workers over many fields.

I was led into this line of thought by my recollections of our honored guest. I think that the reflections I have suggested may be welcome to him in the retrospect of a long career, during which, no doubt, he has had many