Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'd Rather Teach Peace

Colman McCarthy's book I'd Rather Teach Peace is a required read for anyone who doubts the power of passionate teachers. In fact, it should be on the reading list of every news anchor who diabolically delights in demonizing teachers based on outdated stereotypes.

Before I became a teacher, I made six figures as an attorney at one of the biggest and most prestigious law firms in the country. I was good at my job, and I didn't leave because of the great allure of summers off or getting out at 3pm (which never happens)* .... I left the firm for the same reason every good high school teacher joins this thankless profession - because I felt an overwhelming need to pursue a career where I could make a difference, a real difference, in the lives of teens.

*News Flash for all you doubting-Thomases out there: I work MORE hours as a teacher than I did as a third-year associate at the law firm, only I don't get a fancy car, or an expense account, or trial bonuses. Instead, I get something much better - my kids; there is no better place than with my students, celebrating their successes.

Now, amidst this recent "teacher-bashing" public dialogue, I find comfort of purpose in McCarthy's words:

"At fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen, the ages of everyone in the class, teenagers are shopping around for ideals to live by. This week I was reading a bit of Mother Teresa, whose Sisters of Charity have three convents in Washington and whom I interviewed when she opened the last one in the south-east part of the city. I ask a student to read aloud a few of nun's lines [from "Anyway"] that might help everyone, me be the idealists we are meant to be."


People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and openness may make you vulnerable.
Be honest and open anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People who really want help may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.


  1. Love it! Before I became a teacher, I worked at ABC in accounts payable and hated it. Once I became a teacher I loved it. You always hear how teachers dont make any money, which I did not care. I enjoyed going to work whereas at ABC I hated it. Teaching 3rd grade then jr high was a challenge each day I walked into the classroom. My first class is about to graduate from college and when they tell me how much of an impact on their lives I am elated! I wouldn't change for anything in the world!

  2. You would love this book Sunshine :)

  3. What a wonderful profession, I get to see the kids and you everyday.

  4. Awwww - you and Stella are the BEST Jean! You guys make school even more fun :)