Student or Teacher?

Banu Büyükçıngıl
3 minutes

I have been teaching for a long time. When I started my career, I thought this job was not for me at all. Teaching was not even among my dreams, which appeared and disappeared like soap bubbles. However, fate weaved its web and I found myself among the students in a school. 

At first, I felt like I would never get used to it and I would never like this profession. As time passed and I entered children’s worlds, I began to love them. In fact, I can say that while I was a cool girl, a motherly character came out of me. As I was focusing on each child’s name, voice, character, mood, each of them settled in my mind and heart. There were some students I was angry with and even disliked. Some lessons could turn into a war. I was yelling and angry and exhausted for almost the whole class. “God, what is the secret? Why am I in a place I don’t want to be and why do I keep fighting with feelings I don’t want?” I have asked many times! Sometimes I felt like a shepherd and sometimes like a babysitter. I still feel that way from time to time. What has changed is that most of the time I don’t get angry on the inside, even if I get angry on the outside. 

When I stopped trying to teach in a one-sided way and realized that one can learn from children, that’s when I started to enjoy my profession. Thinking that every class, and even every child, was there for my evolution has helped me learn to accept them as they are, even if I can’t love them all. For example, I can no longer get angry with a student who disrupts the flow of the lesson by constantly complaining about his/her friend on the pretext of a minor problem, because I have just as many unwarranted complaints. How can I explain to him the pointlessness of that child’s complaint when I am always whining and complaining.  So, while I explain to him the futility of complaining, I also try to correct my own shortcomings.

There are many ways to be a good teacher, but the key is to be a good student. Learning while teaching makes what you do a pleasure. Kenan Rifâî, one of the Sufi mystics of the 20th century, said that he did not derive the same pleasure from being a murshid as he did from being a disciple. Because being a student has less responsibility than being a teacher, because a teacher has a responsibility to be a role model. Whereas in discipleship there is an effort to understand and comprehend without responsibility. I hope that each of us can turn whatever we do into an adventure of self-knowledge, like a student.

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