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Catholic Activity: The Child and His Teacher

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Newland gives advice on how parents can encourage an obedient attitude in their children toward their teachers.

DIRECTIONS

Then there are the lessons in obedience, silence, respect, responsibility, and honesty to be learned in relation to school. If we have taught our children that obedience to parents is important because they are the visible representatives of God in the family, they can understand why it is important to be obedient to the teacher in the classroom. Obedience is not something the teacher is challenged to wrest from a child. Obedience is due. A Catholic child is taught to confess disobedience. I asked an eight-year-old why he obeyed his teacher.

"Because it's wrong not to."

"Why?"

"Because you aren't home, and she is like your mother and father are at home, only in school. God wants you to be obedient to the teacher."

Certainly, "we all have our rights." But we also all have our obligations. If we teach that obedience is expected by God, then the personality of the teacher has nothing to do with it, and even the child who is not obedient knows, in his conscience, that he is wrong, not clever. The childhood of Christ is the example of obedience we may instill in our children; and if obedience is difficult we can pray with them, asking Him to give them the grace to learn it.

Because their teacher is given her authority from God, we must help them to respect her, even when they may not like her too much. If she is Sister, they must understand that in her vocation she is a Bride of Christ, who has left father, mother, sisters, brothers, and all the world to serve Him. She is not and does not care to be considered a "regular guy." She is a dedicated woman, quite human (why people are surprised that the religious are human is beyond me), who loves, teaches, corrects, and endures for a supernatural reason. She did not take the habit because she is a saint, but because she wants to be one; if her weaknesses show now and then, so do ours (probably more so). We must pray for her and with her, as we know she prays for us.

If the teacher is a lay person, the same respect is due. Lay teachers are people with private lives like ourselves, who suffer the same worries and pains and bear the same obligations as the rest of the world. Theirs, too, is a dedicated vocation. We need not go into the economics of teachers' salaries with our children, but it is easier to see that teachers are dedicated when we ponder the salaries they might be making if they were doing something else. If now and then we meet a teacher who is not, to our way of thinking, understanding and patient, by our own understanding we can help her be the best sort of person she may be.

Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961

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