I came close to pursuing a career in academia, but chose government service instead. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed playing a teaching role in just about every position I’ve held. When the Customs Service sent me to Hofstra University for five months of training in system analysis, many of my fellow students were struggling with statistics and principles of computer operation. I enjoyed tutoring review sessions in the evening in the empty bar of the Lido Beach Hotel, which was closed for the season, and where we were billeted.
At the Senate, when PC’s were first introduced, my closest contacts were the Senators’ office managers. I could see from working with them on accounting systems I was installing that many were baffled at the basics of working a computer. I offered to have sessions on the basics, like how a keyboard is similar to and different from a typewriter. I scheduled these sessions at 6:00 p.m. on Fridays, because it wasn’t part of my official duties, and I felt I had to do them “after hours.” Attendance and interest exceeded my wildest expectations. For about twenty years now I’ve enjoyed offering workshops in the Diocese of Washington, Maryland, and Virginia on the Daily Office. I realized many years ago that the teaching I enjoy is of adults who want to learn. My hat is off to those who teach children and teenagers and who struggle daily with trying to reach the uninterested; I could never do that.
At St. Alban’s, my teaching outlets have been few; mainly the acolytes. But I have savored it, and I’ll l miss it. But there will be others in the future, I’m sure. An ancient saying goes “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
I’m happy that it runs in the family. My son is a university professor; my youngest daughter is a ballet teacher with her own school; and my oldest daughter has tutored French since high school and has taught etiquette courses off and on for years. Jonnie Sue, as many of you know, had a flower shop for 20 years. She taught flower arranging in her shop and has done workshops here and in Maine.
Teaching is an occupation, for sure, but it is more; it is a calling, an avocation that can find expression in a fascinating variety of ways. So look around you. Someone might benefit from learning something you know.
Adapted from A Prayer for Educational Institutions
Bless all teachers
that they may encourage
sound learning, new discovery,
and the pursuit of wisdom;
and grant that those who teach
and those who learn
may find you to be
the source of all truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 3-May-2016.