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We do not learn for school but for life

9th September 2019

When I started my first teaching job, on my first day I was handed the following to read:

Dear Teacher: I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.

(An excerpt of a letter written by a Holocaust survivor)

The letter convinced me of the importance of teaching, why I was doing it and that I had chosen the right career.

The beginning of the school year is an excellent time for teachers, pupils and parents to reflect on the purpose of education. Over the summer we were delighted by the examination results and these were the culmination of a great deal of hard work. They offer a passport on to the next stages of study, university and the workplace. However many of the most significant lessons of school are not measurable in that way. These are the lessons both implicit and explicit that prepare a child for life. Aristotle saw the prime reason of education as being the development of the ethical character which enables an individual to become a responsible citizen. A person can know a great deal but it may not mean they are good or wise as the letter excerpt reminds us all too clearly. So at the beginning of the school year we reflect on the qualities we need to develop to live a ’good’ life and the development of those skills which will enable our children and young people to take up their place as valuable members of society.

Mrs C Crossley