The Irish poet William Butler Yeats said "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire". We think this precisely describes what education should be and at the same time defines the role of a good teacher. Everybody remembers their favourite teacher. We are sure that what all of these favourite teachers from all over the world would have in common is that they inspired us, they got us interested, made us want to learn more - lit the fire.
Everyone can set a task from a book or write on a blackboard, but those that inspire us... they are what we call another kind of teacher.
For such a person being a teacher is a wonderful and challenging job. If you are another kind of teacher - if you light the fire in your students - you empower them. They will ask questions and will not just accept your answers as their absolute truths. They will want to understand, to discuss, to influence. They will not accept everything you tell them.
This is the kind of teacher we want to educate. We truly believe the world is in great need of good teachers. If you see your teaching role as filling a bucket you will have a much easier job. You can pass on the knowledge you have, and your students can take it or leave it.
It is much more difficult to be another kind of teacher but it is also much more fun. Many of the Development Instructors are involved with education during the service period at Humana People to People's projects. Education is absolutely crucial for development, it is a matter of empowerment. The Poor in the developing world are facing daily struggles to even survive, let alone get themselves out of poverty.
The best we can bring with us, when we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their struggles, is education in all its forms. Not only classroom education, but education in the fields, in the clinic, by the water pump. Humana People to People have for many years now run a project called Total Control of the Epidemic. It is a splendid example of how education can work in its most basic form. The idea is that to stop the spread of the deadly HIV virus people must liberate themselves from the threat.
Thousands of TCE 'Field Officers' have been walking from door to door, from person to person spreading information about the virus. How to avoid getting infected and what to do if infected. This has enabled people to take the situation into their own hands.
For more information about TCE see: http://www.tce-aids.org/