“A teacher has two jobs; fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.”
–from the film
Mr. Holland’s Opus
At the beginning of the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, first-year teacher Glenn Holland struggles. He tries desperately to fill his students’ minds with knowledge, and is angry, frustrated and disappointed when he fails. It is only when his principal pulls him aside and tells him that “as a compass, he’s stuck” that Mr. Holland begins to take a different approach to education.
The above quote from the film is one of the things that inspired me to pursue a career in teaching, and it nicely sums up my philosophy of education.
All too often, children are simply bombarded with information and sent into the world without any idea what to do with that information. An effective educational system should do more; it should supply them with the tools they need to be successful in later grades, in further education, in life.
Through the course of the movie, Mr. Holland learns to “be a compass.” He stops talking at his students and talks to them. He finds ways to work with each student’s individual needs, giving them the tools they need to be successful. He begins to reach them, one at a time, and they begin to learn. He brings joy to his classroom, engages his students in the process of learning, and by doing so, creates an environment in which education becomes an adventure instead of a chore.
I believe that we, as teachers, have the responsibility to do just that. Yes, we will have standards to meet, and challenges to overcome, but I truly believe that we can do those things while making the classroom an exciting, challenging, stimulating place.
Mr. Holland is a character in a movie, but I think he is an inspiration to current and would-be teachers alike. He is the kind of teacher I want my children to have, and the kind of teacher I want to be. As I embark on a career in education, I hope that I, too, can become a compass for the children I will teach, providing them not only knowledge, but direction.