The Noblest Profession

Education faces a crisis in that the public’s regard as a whole for teachers is ambiguous.  Teaching as a profession would not seem to possess the prestige of other professions such as engineering, law, finance, or medicine.

Teachers in public education receive questionable criticism due to the public’s regard of education as an expense, rather than an investment.  Indeed, teachers’ unions have cast a haze over the scene, as their vigorous representation of educators has at times invited misunderstanding of the profession.

For all of this, teaching remains a profoundly dignified and noble profession at heart.  As our society has changed and the work becomes ever more confusing and conflicted, as the remuneration lags behind that of other professions, as colleagues draw together to stave off disaffection, the most devoted teachers demonstrate all the more their intrinsic drive to help children find a path.  The best teachers relate far more than content; they impart humanity.

In the very imperfection of our world lie contrasting pockets of order and clarity.  So it holds with our institutions and professions.  Trying times define us, and we work by each other’s light.


A building rises from a township’s powers,
And children file in at each day’s light.
Their masters lead them through deliberate hours,
Then homes rebound as families reunite.
The mothers rise to bear their burdens forth;
The fathers reach out arms to draw them back;
Town elders chart the course magnetic north;
The world looms by to threaten daily wrack.
But still the edifice abounds with hope–
With many masters, many sound designs.
Each elegant in substance, scheme and scope,
And each as every other undermines.
     Sublimely distant seem our ideal stars,
     And never perfect spins this world of ours.

9 thoughts on “The Noblest Profession

  1. What a beautiful post! I work in a parochial school in an affluent area, so our challenges are different. My son is the instrumental music director at a public high school in a district two towns over. He has been in the inter-city and now in the suburbs but wherever he teaches he goes above and beyond to give his students opportunities to meet music greats. Recently he took members of his jazz band to a concert in Philadlephia and they got to meet Wynton Marsalis backstage. I know that there are so many other teachers who do the same yet don’t get appreciated for their efforts. We do need to remeber to build each other up. If only the world at large could see more of the behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing this though provoking post.

    1. And I taught for five years at a parochial school. It transformed me in many ways. Your son seems to have pulled off quite a coup!

      By the way, I plan to mention your post for today in my post for tomorrow, as I found your reflection inspiring. Any objection?

  2. Your post is so thoughtful about the value of teaching and being a teacher, unappreciated though we may be sometimes. And, holy cow, you wrote another sonnet! Well done.

    1. I started doing sonnets as an exercise a few years ago. They are a little outmoded as a form, but I enjoy the challenge of meeting their technical demands (even if I risk falling a little short artistically).

  3. I love it! You hit the nail on the head when describing education as an expense rather than an investment ; that seems to be it, in a nutshell for many persuasions these days. I love the sonnet – it is priceless. I can picture our town, our schools, and our council vividly in these words. My favorite part is “elegant in substance, scheme, and scope, and each as every other undermines”. I guess that’s it – our roads are paved with the noblest of intentions but we keep thwarting each other at every turn. Thank goodness the kids are there to revive, and recenter us. Really nice, Paul. Wow.

    1. Thanks, Deb. The grown-ups mean no ill in tripping over each other in their endeavors; it merely happens. One day, we’ll all move in the same direction.

  4. You’ve hit the nail on the head, and it’s so well written. I love this line: “For all of this, teaching remains a profoundly dignified and noble profession at heart.”

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