The Hierophant: A man sits on a throne holding a scepter in one hand and giving some kind of sign with his other. He is dressed in ceremonial robes and wears a crown on his head. Two men kneel at his feet looking subservient.
So. We’ve already established in another post that the Hierophant card represents teachers. Be they school teachers or religious ones. Or maybe someone else who’s ideas impress you like a family member or social commentator or a writer via their books.
What I want to explore in this post is the mystery that surrounds the vocation of teaching. You get a feel for that mystery in the picture on the card. The central figure wears a headdress and holds an item whose symbolic significance is obscure. And he looms above the figures at his feet. They can only reach his height with a great deal of effort on their part.
There’s a saying around my parts: ‘Those who can do, those who can’t teach.’ This pretty well sums up the low esteem in which my profession is held. And I kinda understand why. People are much more likely to remember the bad teachers than the good ones. Experiencing bad teaching is like being stuck in one of Dante’s nine circles of hell. Horrible. But I think more importantly good teachers make what they do look easy. When it’s clearly not. And that is part of the mystery of this vocation.
Now. After years in the profession I believe there’s a secret to being a great teacher. One which I’m going to initiate you into right now. It’s probably not what you expect. Some think it’s got to do with how smart teachers are. Bong bong. Wrong. Others think it’s got to do with how much homework they give. Bong bong. You might have your own idea. This is mine. The secret to being a great teacher is…love. Yep, you read right. Love. A force which is a mystery in itself.
You’ve got to love WHAT you’re teaching.
You’ve got to love WHO you’re teaching.
And from that all the rest follows. Because if you love WHO you teach you won’t want to let them down. So you’ll make sure you’re at the top of your game. If you love WHAT you teach it will be communicated in everything you say. And enthusiasm is incredibly infectious.
Now, you can be a good teacher if just one of these are true. If you absolutely love maths but don’t care much for teenagers you can still do a good job teaching high school mathematics. And if you adore young children but aren’t crash hot at music you can still be a good primary school music teacher. But those who love both what and who they teach are the truly great ones. And by love, I don’t mean that stupid sloppy stuff, I mean someone who genuinely cares about their subject and their pupils.
What do you think makes a great teacher?