TWIT : We REALLY DO Influence Our Students
A few years back, I started a new
category of posts here on the Radical called TWIT -- or THIS Is Why I Teach --
designed to serve as a celebration of the simple joys that come along with
being a classroom teacher and a reminder to me that I really DO enjoy what I
I realized the other day that it's
been a LONG while since I wrote a TWIT post -- and then the email below ended
up in my inbox:
Dear Mr. Ferriter,
In my last semester at UNC Chapel
Hill where I double majored in Psychology and Political Science, I took a class
in cognitive development.
Our professor asked the class if
anyone had a vivid memory of something taught in grade school and I raised my
I told a story about my 6th grade
language arts teacher who came into class and told one side of the room that
they were his favorite students and the other side that they were bad and lazy.
I told them how the good side was given soda and candy and how the bad side was
assigned pages out of a workbook.
You did this demonstration to teach
us about discrimination and injustice and how despite the arbitrariness of the
division, no one spoke out against it.
My professor and the class were
impressed less with my recollection than with the brilliance of your
Earlier this past semester in law
school at Georgetown, I was working on a ten day take-home exam memorandum.
I thought about how easy it would be
for students to collaborate on the assignment, breaking the honor code.
thought about how the code was less fair to people like me who would choose to
follow it by forcing us to compete with those who would ignore it and benefit
Then I remembered how Mr. Ferriter
emphatically taught my 6th grade class that it was better to earn an
"F" than to cheat one's way to an "A".
On many occasions like these, I have
been reminded of your teachings.
I often wondered how it was that
under the guise of language arts you taught us so much about ethics and
I sit here writing this e-mail ten or so years since being in your class
not just because you were a teacher but because you went above and beyond what
was required of you, and as a result, you made a really important difference.
I believe that aside from
parents, teachers wield the most power in deciding what our society will be
like. Thank you for taking advantage of that authority and being such a
I know I am a better person for
having been in your class.
How's THAT for a pick-me-up after a long week of teaching, huh?!
More importantly, how's THAT for a reminder that everything we do matters more than we can possibly imagine.
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