Monday, January 16, 2017

A Pep Talk From Teddy Roosevelt

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for TR. See, right there, I refer to him as TR, as if we are contemporaries. I have books, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, magnets, a finger puppet, a doll set (see above), and many other items of memorabilia.

Now, after reading an address he gave to the Iowa State Teachers' Association in 1910, my admiration has deepened even more. If you click the link and read the whole speech, remember the time period. Yes, it is sexist, and perhaps a bit nationalistic, but it's essence is golden:

There are a great many professions that are important, but of all the professions in the United States I think that there is no one quite so important to the country as a whole as is yours. There is no other profession which exercises so profound an influence upon the national growth, for you shape the whole course of the development of the nation of to-morrow.
                                              *              *                *
Great is your task, and therefore, thrice over are you to be congratulated because your task is great. Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. No kind of life is worth leading if it is always an easy life. I know that your life is hard; I know that your work is hard; and hardest of all for those of you who have the highest trained consciences, and who therefore feel always how much you ought to do. I know your work is hard, and that is why I congratulate you with all my heart. 

Doesn't that just sum up education innovation, too? Especially the "effort, pain, difficulty." Finding time to learn about new things and try them in small bites while continuing to do your absolute best day in and day out is exhausting.

And it is exhilarating! Which is why we keep coming back for more. I look at TR, a man who was shot during a speech two years after this one, and finished it before going to the hospital for medical treatment. Now, I'm not advocating effort that would be detrimental to your health, but I do think the zeal and enthusiasm with which he approached life is similar to how many educators I know approach teaching and learning.

As we head toward the second half of the school year, here is one last quote:
Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
To all educators, thank you for choosing to do work worth doing.

Join the conversation...
If you want to know more about TR, check out this site. What resonates with you?

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