That moment when the mind moves from inchoate encounter to accomplished understanding is characteristic of the human condition. It is central to who we are and what we become. Development, in other words, is a joy. While it often occurs in children without their recognizing its importance, it is nonetheless astounding, and if we play a part in its occurrence, it is doubly so.
Those of us who are parents, understand this on an intuitive level. Our axons and dendrites surge along with our child's when true learning takes place, and I wager to say our pleasure at the moment early in our child's development is nearly always greater. There are fewer moments of true satisfaction than seeing for the first time that our children grasp the knowledge or wisdom we have to share. Perhaps the satisfaction was hard fought and achieved after disagreement and mind-numbing repetition; perhaps it was almost immediate. Whatever the time-frame, seeing education work is delightful.
An amazing thing about our society is that this delight also exists beyond parental bonds and interaction, as well as beyond the care of extended and close family. The delight of seeing learning take place is outside the home, down the street, or across town. It is in our schools and guided by the teachers of our children.
May 6th marked National Teachers Day in America, and I was gladdened to see children at Jackson Hole Elementary make their way to school that morning with flowers in hand. Flowers are fitting votives for springtime recognition of our community's teachers and the coaching, guidance, and assistance they provide for leading our children to a more secure comprehension of this world and, perhaps, a fuller appreciation of their place in it.
It is always better to know than not, and our teachers are integral to the success of our children pivoting from ignorance to understanding. This applies not only to elementary school teachers, not only to high school teachers, nor only to teachers south of town or north of town. It applies to all teachers.
Is is easy to forget this as we entrench ourselves in opinion and hierarchize the ways we expect our children to learn. From squabbles over the value (or not) of Wyoming Common Core to disagreement about curricula, secularism, classical learning, or STEM, we claim our ground and defend its worth for the sake of our children and their future. The struggle is not unimportant. There is an overabundance to learn, and education is in everybody’s favor. The debates will continue.
But as they do, let's remember as best we can that all of our community's teachers work for something in addition to our hopes for children well-rounded and ready for the world. Teachers work as well for those moments of enlightenment and delight when a little less darkness will mark a child's mind.
So in honor of past and future National Teachers Days—in honor of every day they work for my kid and yours—my thanks to Ms. Harland, Mr. Mike, and every other Jackson Hole educator in every Jackson Hole school.