April 20th, 2018

An apple for our retiring teachers

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on June 14, 2017.

As the school year winds down, and teachers and students get set for their well-deserved summer break, it is an excellent time to reflect on the value of education in our lives, and, more specifically, to think about the teachers we once knew. The teachers who taught us so much about the world and helped to craft our perceptions of it.

This is especially poignant to think about at this moment as the next cohort of teachers across all school divisions gets set to retire from the profession at the end of the current semester. It cannot be easy for these teachers, who have defined their whole identity by their profession for so many years.

No doubt many are looking forward to the next chapter of their lives, with more time to spend with kids or grandkids, travelling around the globe or to getting out to do more volunteer work in the community. However, there is probably more than a few among their number who might find themselves a little lost, now that they will no longer be in the classroom every day. The summer break will probably feel natural and normal to them, but when September rolls around again they may indeed begin getting that old, familiar itch to return; that’s when retirement blues may really set in.

To help our retiring teachers with this impending moment of crisis, we offer a parable from the Zen tradition.

“The young man was at the end of his training, soon he would go on to be a teacher. Like all good pupils, he needed to challenge his teacher and to develop his own way of thinking. He caught a bird, placed it in one hand and went to see his teacher.

‘Teacher, is this bird alive or dead?’

His plan was the following: If his teacher said ‘dead,’ he would open his hand and the bird would fly away. If the answer was ‘alive’, he would crush the bird between his fingers; that way the teacher would be wrong whichever answer he gave.

‘Teacher, is the bird alive or dead?’ he asked again.

‘My dear student, that depends on you,’ was the teacher’s reply.

Retirement may have its challenges for our outgoing teachers, but remember to make the best of it. It’s entirely up to you. We wish you all the best. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many local students.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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