This week is a very important week recognizing one of society’s most important, and sometimes undervalued, role – teachers. It is teachers appreciation week – a time when we acknowledge the role teachers play and the importance of education in ever evolving our minds and hearts. To me, I look at the role of “teacher” more broadly. I think it applies to anyone whom dedicates their life to educating and empowering others to help them grow as self-actualized people. Hence, I include Doctors and Mothers in the same category. Ironic as it may be, it’s also Naturopathic Medicine week (acknowledging the role Naturopaths can play) and Mother’s Day week.
Teachers in the general sense serve a incredibly important role in a child’s (or adult’s) life. They provide structure and routine (similar to a mother, hence why the roles are misconstrued sometimes) and when passionate about their craft they inspire their students to learn and more importantly, want to learn (the intrinsic motivation lacking in many children lately). They point out our mistakes in order to learn constructively, and they sacrifice their free time to help others (through tutoring, extracurricular activities, councils, etc.). It is a highly empathetic job which needs to be respected as it is truly influencial in jump starting people’s lives for better (or worse). Think back. Who inspired you most as a child? It was probably a passionate teacher that believed in your potential, which gave you the internal energy to aspire to that potential.
If it wasn’t a teacher that inspired you, it may have been your Mother. Mothers are our original teachers. Their job begins in the womb. We learn how to survive from them (hence studies showing that mother’s with high stress levels lead to high stress babies that don’t understand how to diffuse stress healthily). We learn our most important lessons from them and how to be a better person. Even if our Mothers have been absent in our lives we still learn from them, from how not to act or the important lesson of forgiveness and empathy. They begin as our caretakers, then our teachers, then in time our friends and role models. We also learn our habits from them in regards to self respect, self care, and health.
In regards to self care and health care, Doctor is the next teacher. In fact, “Doctor” means “Teacher” in Latin. Somehow the role of Doctor has been misconstrued in our society and this invisible hierarchy has been created where people are afraid to see Doctors because they fear news about their health or are scared that they will be yelled at (a common complaint I hear at my office – “I’m afraid my Doctor will yell at me”). It is not the role of Doctors to scold, discipline or parent. It is their role to present reasons behind the symptoms you are experiencing and teaching you self sustaining ways to address and resolve these symptoms. In case of a Naturopath, their role is to educate you on the interconnectivity of your physical, mental, and emotional health. How the choices you make, the thoughts you have, the environment you live in, the food you eat, and lastly your genetic susceptibility (or biology) work together to create you. Hence, you have the power to change your health for the better (or worse). There is no fault – just responsibility.
The role of a teacher is to display the information to you, to teach you how to apply it, then allow you to make your own decision. They don’t give you the answers – they teach you how to find the answers from within yourself. They are guides, not directors. They empower, not enable. They influence your life and give you the space to make mistakes and learn from them. We are always growing and learning. The best way to learn is to teach, and vice versa. Let us show gratitude to our teachers, and embrace the role the with love and respect ourselves when it comes to our students, our kids, and our patients.