Did you have any teachers or professors in your life that had a significant influence in forming your current philosophies and beliefs? Fortunately, I had three:
- A middle school literature teacher
- A middle and high school band teacher
- A high school literature teacher
Why did these teachers have such influence on my life? In reflection, I think the primary reason was that they taught as much about life as they did the subjects they were teaching.
The male band teacher taught and lived the character building components of a happy, responsible, productive and honorable life including:
- Ethical behavior
- Hard work
In reality, this man was more a mentor to me than a teacher. I think of him frequently. The influence he had on tens of thousands of students over a 30+ years period is truly priceless.
The female literature teachers, on the other hand, taught about values, personal philosophy and humanity. Three of the books we read and studied were:
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
- Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell
For those who have read these books; the lessons, economics and politics are evident. It wasn’t until years later that I came to understand and identify their economic and political bent. The encouragement to think for ourselves and not just follow the norms of society have always been a guiding philosophy in my life.
These two tenured and highly respected teachers in the community would never be hired today let alone be allowed to teach children. This period was in the late sixties to the mid seventies, a period of time that was far more liberal, free and open to free-thought than it is today in the United States.