(Ana lectures to astronomy students.)
One of Ana's biggest disappointments in her new life on Earth has been the low priority many of our nations assign to education, and to teachers. She has been especially disheartened by those whose answer to hard economic times is to cut back on education budgets. This is akin to eating one's seed corn, she feels: whatever the short-term gain might be, the long-term harm is exponentially greater.
It has been mentioned elsewhere that Ana's ancestors on the planet Thomo had a very difficult time adjusting to their new planet at first. One of the most important reasons they eventually prevailed was education. It was obvious to them from their first years on Thomo that each individual had to contribute his or her very best, so the entire society could survive. On Thomo, teachers are revered, the classroom is a sacred space, and education is as important as food and security.
Of interest to us, Thomans have no separate schools of education: they have only teachers and subject areas. Teachers, furthermore, seldom specialize in grade levels, but teach (and learn from) any and all. Many are sought out for their thoughts on social, political, and technical matters. They are not compartmentalized, as ours tend to be. Indeed, Ana's good friend Hleo ap Darshiell, who figures in all Ana's stories, and who she calls "Counselor," was a famous teacher in his day.
Ana has done what she could to foster education on Earth. Her philanthropic activities have been extensive, and she has had a great influence on the private school her children have attended. (See Distant Cousin: Reincarnation for more on this.) Still, the problems faced by our education system are beyond the ability of one person to remedy. Nonetheless, Ana was cheered recently to discover evidence of respect and appreciation of teachers: the website Story Corps collects oral interviews having to do with teachers. She loves to spend time there, and finds herself inspired by many of the accounts of teachers, students, and the great things that can happen when education works well.
Only one example: a neurosurgeon removed a tumor from the throat of a man that prevented him from speaking, curing him completely. The man was then able to ask how his doctor had become a surgeon. The surgeon remembered when he was in middle school he had removed the brain and spinal cord from a frog. His science teacher told him he might become a neurosurgeon some day--which later he did. The man further told his doctor that he should call that teacher and thank him.
"'I want to thank you,'" the doctor told his teacher when he called.
"I was flabbergasted," the teacher replied. "I said, 'Of all the people in your entire career, you want to thank me?'
"It was the same feeling I had when ... when my kids were born," he added. "I started to cry. It made me feel really important that I had that influence on you." He admitted, "I almost am afraid to say that I'm a teacher to some people."
Not anymore, he told the surgeon, "because you called me. I'm a teacher, and I'm going to help as many people as I can to find their passion too."
That can be a lesson for all of us: if a teacher has changed your life for the better, pay it forward! If you can't find that teacher to thank, tell someone else. All of us have reason to be thankful for teachers.
More on education from a Thoman perspective: