In a way, everything is an adventure, but it takes a person of passion to pursue their dream, especially a teacher. Even more important, teachers inspire the spirit of adventure in their students. Isn’t that what school is all about, preparing students to pursue their dreams once they graduate?
It is teachers like Kate who take the extra time and energy to invite me into their classrooms to share my story with the kids. Kate is an outstanding teacher, and she had the brilliant idea of having her students illustrate my next book. Not only will the kids get to meet the author and read the book, but they actually get to participate in the creation of a real-world project, something that will last the rest of their lives, and inspire generations to come.
It is important to understand that teachers, like Kate, don’t have to take the extra time to invite guests to the classroom or create projects for the kids. Indeed, it would be much easier to just spoon-feed the kids the state-approved curriculum. In fact, teachers don’t have to teach at all. During my travels, I have seen many children who never had the opportunity to attend school and were often working and living on the streets, as seen below.
I can say from my experience speaking at schools across the world that education is the backbone of our society. And, I can also say that teachers seem to be an extremely undervalued commodity. And even the best-intentioned teachers can’t overcome the budget restrictions, standardized (read dumb-downed) curriculum requirements, and other artificial barriers imposed to actually give the kids the best education. Of course, that doesn’t even include the $80,000 student loan Kate has shouldered to follow her dream.
If you need more food for thought, this is a worthwhile and humorous TED talk for everyone interested in our society as a whole. Personally, I run into roadblocks many times related to the educational issues presented in this talk; for example, more often than not schools tell me they have no budget for extracurricular activities and no art classes. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to inspire curiosity in children and teach them how to teach themselves, rather than the emphasis on standardized memorization. And what better way to start than to empower the teachers with the same curiosity and learning environment?