Have you ever gone into someone’s home and were immediately taken back by how the home was decorated? The warmth of the colors, the layout of the furniture, the unique photo wall arrangement, or how a certain room was utilized? I am intrigued by those, like my wife, who can see it before it actually comes together.
And have you ever given much thought to the parallel that exists between an interior decorator of a home and one of the “job descriptions” of being a teacher?
I recently read an article by Bradley Green titled C.S. Lewis as Student, Apologist, and Story Teller: Convocation Address at Augustine School. I really enjoyed the article, especially Lewis’ emphasis on the importance and value of reading (hmmm…I think I see a future post coming). But it was a quote toward the end that grabbed my attention:
It has been said that the teacher—for good or for ill—is the interior decorator of the student’s soul. If this is the case, then teaching (and learning!) is serious business.
What a mental picture – as an interior decorator beautifies a room of a home and makes it warm and inviting, so my role as a teacher is influential in beautifying the soul of my students, for good or for bad! Education, first and foremost, is and should be about transformation of thinking, attitudes, beliefs, skill sets, and direction. And the idea of interior decorator lends itself nicely to that.
Understand this, though – the end goal of the interior decorator is not (or rather should not be) a focus back onto the decorator. No, rather the interior decorator does his or her work with the hope that the result or product is noticed and not the person.
My efforts as an educator to transform a soul are not employed so that I will be noticed. No, rather I “decorate” and help develop my students so that they become autonomous learners and beautiful to others. They get noticed for their service, character, and love.
Teachers are compared to many things: a guide, a gardener, a symphony conductor. But I love the comparison to the “interior decorator of the soul” because it speaks of influence that can have effect years past the end of a course or a semester. And when you sift through all of the lesson plans, textbooks, and assessments, isn’t that why we teach?
Community Input: So what do you think about this idea of the teacher as interior decorator?