Give Each Other a Smile

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The final quote that hung on my wall in my principal’s office is one from Lardner. A quote I love and one which I feel can be embedded into our lives daily.

It fits very well with the profession of teaching, and I believe if it was one premise upon which all teachers acted, then what is happening in our classrooms would drastically change for the better. The quote is similar to the Mauriac quote which hung in my office, in that the concept of love is within its essence.

I have always held the belief that when teaching as a profession chooses you, then you will make a great teacher, because you have naturally, the capacity to love – your work and the children in your care. A love for the role and the charges placed in your care will mean that you most definitely will be able to have a positive impact on the future of their lives.

I believe it is a very difficult profession if you do not love it. In fact, as Khalil Gibran says indirectly of teaching, you would be better begging alms from the poor at the city gates than standing in front of a classroom, if you did not love teaching, and he adds ….work is love made visible. It would be my belief that there is a need for a slight change to Gibran’s words from: “Work is love made visible” to “Works needs to be love made visible”. If you cannot love while teaching, then do yourself a favour, and do the children in your care a favour, and change your job……

This concept is supported in the work of the mystic from the 14th century Thomas A Kempis, when he writes in his work, The Imitation of Christ, the performance of an action is worthless in itself, if it is not done in love. Kempis actually wrote ‘if it is not done out of charity’. When charity is equivalent to impartial love, the interpretation of his words, I feel, is legitimate. Irrespective of the wording, the principle contained in the quote is what permeates the one hanging on my wall. Kempis posits at another time: “Love flies, runs and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back”. How awesome is that. When that level of liquid love is put into the act of teaching, then expect miracles in the classroom!… but I digress.

The quote that hung on my wall is not restricted to those in the teaching profession. I believe it is a quote with a message by which we could all act. Whatever we do, whether it be a significant act, or the sharing of a small word, or seemingly imperceptible piece of body language, when it is done with love, then it becomes great. This quote identifies the potential of such an act.

And so to the quote itself. I have morphed the quote a little whilst, I believe, remaining true to the author’s intent……… They gave a smile….with the future written on it.

A smile. A small thing. A simple act. An act that bears well. An act in which love lives.

There is something special about these smiles. They are neither plastic nor sullied by veiled intention. Some use their smile to do this. Their intention is their own advantage. But a smile which has a future written on it is an open, honest, simple gift …….. from the heart.

When a teacher teaches, and in so doing, gives a child a smile with the future written on it, then the child, feels within him or herself a sense of belonging, a confidence in what he or she is doing, and a feeling of certainty about his or her future.

So too when we find ourselves giving a smile with the future written on it, what we leave could be what a teacher leaves with a child, it may even be unknown to us, but rest assured it will be positive. It will be a positive mark on someone else’s destiny (Mauriac), and we will certainly be doing something that is worthy of our own respect (Chin-Ning Chu).


All the best, Mark.

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