by Georgina Quezada Forno
I have heard experiences of people who, even as children, knew what they wanted to be when they became adults. In my case, however, I never thought of being a teacher during the first 20 years of my life.
I finally realized, however, that I needed to come back to God after having devoted two years of my life to a university career that I did not really enjoy. God received me again into His arms, completely defeated. He showed me that His purpose for me was to help educate others.
Today I am in my third year of learning to be a kindergarten teacher in the Catholic University of Chile. I can assure you that the most valuable learning I did not receive in the classrooms of the university. Instead, I was taught by children in both the most affluent and humble classrooms where I have worked. One thing I have learned is that to teach others, and to inherit the kingdom of heaven myself, we all have to become as little children (Matthew 18:1-3).
Do not misunderstand me. Each child has the right to have a teacher who is conscious of the following: “To the teacher is committed a most important work—a work upon which he should not enter without careful and thorough preparation. He should feel the sacredness of his calling and give himself to it with zeal and devotion…. These are indispensable, but without a spiritual fitness for the work he is not prepared to engage in it.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 229.
Therefore, it is imperative that each teacher learns to teach like Jesus did.
The Word of God says that we have to become as little children. Then comes the question: what are children like? We find the answer in Desire of Ages, p. 437: “The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness.” Oh, how many adults have forgotten the simplicity of real love! “Jesus was ever a lover of children. He accepted their childish sympathy and their open, unaffected love” (Desire of Ages, p. 511) and in the same way desires our sincere love and sympathy.
Consider this: “The reason why there are so many hardhearted men and women in the world is that true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better nature of these persons was stifled in childhood; and unless the light of divine love shall melt away their cold selfishness, their happiness will be forever ruined. If we wish our children to possess the tender spirit of Jesus, and the sympathy that angels manifest for us, we must encourage the generous, loving impulses of childhood.” Desire of Ages, p. 516. Make an effort to cultivate love and generosity in yourselves. Many of us expect only to teach lessons to children, when we should learn from and with them.
“Keep everything in your backpack but your pencils and erasers. Clear off your table. Stay away from your classmates—and be quiet. We are about to start the test.”
Many would think these are orders given by an elementary school teacher or even a high school teacher, but sadly the orders came from a kindergarten teacher (who, in Chile, teaches children 5- and 6-year-olds).
The hearts of such children, by God´s mercy, have not yet been hardened by contact with evil. Their ears have not yet been filled with the words of the world. Their hearts are open to recognize the presence of God. Their ears can still hear the voice that speaks through nature. “Wherever we turn, we hear the voice of God and behold His handiwork. From the solemn roll of the deep-toned thunder and old ocean’s ceaseless roar, to the glad songs that make the forests vocal with melody, nature’s ten thousand voices speak His praise.” Child Guidance, p. 53.
Unfortunately, we often silence these voices and pretend that children can “listen” through thick textbooks. Dear teacher, let´s be sensitive too, like children. Let’s listen to the voice of God in the happy singing of the birds. Let´s contemplate His declaration of love in each beautiful, colorful flower. We should let ourselves be amazed by the greatness of the mountains, so children can be amazed with us.
There are many children who are not ashamed to raise their voices in praise to God. They play notes, even wrong ones, on musical instruments with the sincere desire to worship God. “As the children of Israel, journeying through the wilderness, cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life.” Education, p. 167. But there are homes where the embarrassment acquired in adulthood prevents adults from singing happily. Let’s be children again, delighted by songs of praise. With our children, let us raise our voices in praise to our beloved God.
Today’s society wants everything, and wants it now! We try not to “waste time” and attempt to make our children think in the same way. Children, however, “should not be long confined within doors…. For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom.” Child Guidance, p. 300. Small children are happy to raise their hands, stand up, and sit down again. Remember how wonderful it is to run, play, roll around in the grass, carefully plant a seed, and chase a rising bird with all our energy. Let us, you and I, be children again!