Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Best Teachers

On Monday, one of my teachers passed away. On the same day, another of my mentors “no longer with us” joined me by video to help me teach a class of aspiring language teachers. The former is Mildred Godwin Taylor, who lived 93 years on this planet. The latter is Kenneth Lee Pike.

Both teachers in very personal ways continue to teach me. For instance, Aunt Mildred and Dr. Pike renew my reluctant respect for Aristotle (if only in this respect):

As of Monday, I’m reminded that 17th century Lincoln School Headmaster John Clarke opined that “Alexander was right in claiming that he had owed more to Aristotle his teacher than to Philip his father.”

Is this all that different from Philip Yancey’s learning from Fred Rogers (aka “Mr. Rogers”) the value of giving personal and public credit to one’s best teachers? Yancey, “recovering from church abuse,” is inspired by Rogers to write the book Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church. The author details all that he’s learned from Martin Luther King, Jr., G. K. Chesterton, Paul Brand, Robert Coles, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mahatma Gandhi, C. Everett Koop, John Donne, Annie Dillard, Frederick Buechner, Shusaku Endo, and Henri Nouwen.

Now I’m challenged to do this if just briefly in a blog post. And I’d like to make it a meme:

Who are the thirteen teachers who have most personally influenced you and how?

Would you share your baker’s dozen of mentors with the world?

Here, in some chronological order, are my teachers and the greatest bit of what each one has taught me:

1. Mom, taught me to read and, then, still teaches me to learn from good *teachers.

2. Dad, teaches me the measure and the capacity of a man.

3. Aunt Mildred modeled humility and service to students, even a 16-year-old atheist who watched her enjoy and contemplate her incarnate God.

4. Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος models humility and service to many, translating a 16-year-old boy out of his atheism into enjoyment and contemplation.

5. Dr. Richard Cutter taught me enthusiasm in learning Greek by his electric eccentricity in teaching.

6. Julie, my best friend and life partner, teaches me to live passionately with honesty.

7. Dr. Kenneth Lee Pike taught me good language and behavior for being an outsider and an insider (either one moving towards the other).

8. Schaeffer, my one and only son, teaches me to be loyal to friends and to enjoy one’s compulsions.

9. Hallie, my eldest daughter, teaches me to talk thoughtfully with high ideals.

10. Amelia, my youngest daughter, teaches me to laugh a lot.

11. Dr. Charlotte Hogg teaches me feminisms and rhetorics of those in the margins from my places of privilege.

12. Dr. Richard Leo Enos teaches me rhetoric of the Greeks and Romans by his own masterful rhetoric of complex simplicity.

13. Dr. James Reeves teaches me how the ceiling on my spiritual maturity is my social-emotional immaturity (and that there are twelve steps ahead).

*My other teachers, the other top 13 my Mom by teaching me to read taught me to learn from, include these I’ve never met: Anne Lamott, Anne Carson, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Nancy Mairs, Edith Schaeffer, Francis A. Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Dallas Willard, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Now I tag these friends:

Billie
Jason
Suzanne
Wayne

In a late update, I tag some very interesting bloggers:

3 comments:

eclexia said...

A beautiful post and tribute. I also was greatly impacted by Dr. Pike, who lived out being serious and deep without excluding humor and hilarity. He also showed a joy and delight for systems and how language works, which was infectious. And then, what a surprise to see such deeply moving poetry flowing out of this intellectual man.

Soul Survivor was one of the most memorable books I have read. It is fascinating and deeply moving to read biographical vignettes of people in the context of how their lives shaped and impact another person.

Thanks again for this post.

J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome back, Eclexia! Thanks for your memories of Dr. Pike; yes, a deeply moving and deeply moved human being. And I appreciate your notes on Philip Yancey's inspiring teachers and book about them.

David Ker said...

Hey this was sweet. I should have read this before I wrote my post: http://speakeristic.blogspot.com/2008/05/cursed-teacher-meme.html