I begin with Haim Ginott:
I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.
I remind myself often of Ginott’s inspiring and cautionary words. And then there’s Michel de Montaigne, who invented the personal essay:
If . . . teachers undertake to regulate many minds of such different capacities and forms with the same lesson and a similar measure of guidance, it is no wonder if in a whole race of children they find barely two or three who reap any proper fruit from their teaching.
Robert Hutchins, in Great Books: The Foundation of a Liberal Education (1954):
If any common program is impossible, if there is no such thing as an education that everybody ought to have, then we must admit that any community is impossible.
. . . and Hutchins again:
The art of teaching consists in large part of interesting people in things that ought to interest them, but do not.