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May 16, 2008

Commence to applaud teachers

As commencement season winds down, it is time to recognize those weary but happy warriors of the classroom: our teachers. A round of applause, accompanied by a substantial pay raise, would be in order.

The late Kurt Vonnegut offers the best observation I’ve read about this honorable profession in his last collection, Armageddon in Retrospect: “The very best thing you can be in life is a teacher, provided that you are crazy in love with what you teach, and that your classes consist of eighteen students or fewer. Classes of eighteen students or fewer are a family, and feel and act like one.”

Patrons, school boards, and administrators should take special note of that last assertion.

Robert F. Willson Jr.
Emeritus professor of English, UMKC



I was so turned off by several 'untoward' remarks about teachers, I was going to avoid further comment. The last two remarks are respectful & I apreciate them.

I'm celebrating my 55th high school reunion tonight. I remember the names of every teacher I had, even moreso than in college.

All that nonsense about teachers posted reflects a lack of understanding about education and teachers. I have made six figures a year since I can remember in selling careers. I am a substitute high school teacher with students predominantly African American. When I started the classroom was like a jail break. Today I give respect and I get respect. A number of the students are going to college, something that several letter writers have obviously not accomplished. Teaching requires the most challenging effort I have ever had to make.

The future of our country depends first and foremost on education and teachers.



Most jobs I've had in the private sector have been mind-numbingly boring and unchallenging, and I stayed with them until I no longer needed the paycheck enough to keep going. At teaching, however, I was utterly overwhelmed by the challenges involved. Only somebody who's never taught (or even known a teacher) could make an idiotic remark about "sheltered halls of academia". Maybe it gets easy when you reach the ranks of a tenured professor teaching eager grad students (though I'm sure that has it's own challenges that most of us are unaware of), but there is nothing easy about managing a classroom full of young people who don't want to be there. I've read countless tales of successful people from the private sector going into the classroom. Some have been very successful, but never have I heard any of them say it was easy.


Those who are truly dedicated teachers are gifted with skills and perceptions that are all too rare. A gifted teacher has empathy for students and this enables that teacher to achieve great things. Unfortunately, IMO, these gifts are inborn talents and cannot be installed by training alone. Those that have these gifts should be sought out and rewarded, but how do you accomplish this?


BOYS, no mas por favor. I find what you say about teachers stupid and offensive. There must be an Unfettered Letters for those of you with sub 100 IQs.

I had two successful careers in the corporate world before you were born and when I was considering retirment. My teaching and other volunteerism is to give back much of what I have been fortunate to make.

From some of your past ramblings, I'm sure the last sentence will bring all sorts of 'woeful' responses. I don't know why I even bother to respond. "I've been told you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".



jack (leg) accuses me of spouting off, that's rich. Thats right up there with Winky Wright calling Amnesty McCain a bigot.

How many payrolls have you teachers met, and I don't mean showing up for your check on Friday?

Sorry, but I refuse to stand up for those who have chosen to live their lives in the sheltered halls of academia.

A little real world experience would do them a lot of good.

I am not saying there are not good and bad teachers just as in any other profession, but I do not hold them up for saint hood just because they made the choice to teach.


You fellows with your 'bovine scatalogy' et al obviously have had little exposure to an adequate education. Seems you never learned to read, speak, or write -- how's your 'rithmetic?



Those that can't teach spout old sayings someone else taught them.


"Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."


Thank you for your kind words about teachers. After long and varied experiences in the corporate world, I have become a substitute high school teacher for the past three years. I had earned a bachelor degree fifty years ago and wasn't certain I could perform in the classroom. My enthusiasm and love for what I'm doing more than compensates for previous educational training. Love, concern, and caring will go a long way to being a successful teacher.


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