This is why 4:00 in the morning is so important.
About a month ago, our campus was blessed to host guest lecturer, scholar, professor, and poet, Alex Peary. She spent two days with us, delivering her ideas about overcoming writer’s block, reading new poetry that she has just had published, and talking with students about writing. Importing that famous line from Horace, “Never a day without a line,” Alex told us that she gets up every day at 4:00 a.m. to write. She said that people only get up at 4:00 in the morning if they love doing what they’re doing—and, as we all found out, she loves to write.
This morning, like every other morning, I could hear my wife get up and, when I glanced at the clock, it read 4:00 a.m. In her second career as a high school teacher, my wife got up to review the new Macbeth she received from the English Speaking Union and to run some scenes of O that she will juxtapose against the Anthony Hopkins version of Othello. And then she will review and edit the NEASC report she and her colleagues are preparing for that commission.
This made me think about a recent conversation I had with an Associate Chancellor at a university, who also explained that she gets up at 4:00 in the morning to ensure that the work she must undertake for her university is completed. She does this, she told me, so that the affairs of that university may be attended to with alacrity.
It occurred to me that most of the people I work with and that my wife works with all get up about the same time. So, if Alex Peary is right, they do this because they love their work and the students for whom the work is undertaken.
“They love their work and the students for whom the work is undertaken.” This is a message I wish those critics of teachers and professors would remember when they quickly and uncritically point out the results of bubble tests and that teachers and professors “get summer off!”
Those who work in education believe in the possibility of teaching and learning, wanting to see a better world constructed upon the precepts, critical thinking activities, and creative problem-solving strategies they impart to those tender minds they tease into thought. In my opinion, educators deserve the same kind of commendation that heroes receive. So, in that spirit—because today’s educators get up at 4:00 in the morning to perfect a pedagogy of hope and love as a noble alternative to a pedagogy of despair—I will adapt verse Phillis Wheatly, our country’s first published African American female poet, composed for George Washington when she learned he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army:
Proceed, great [educators], with virtue on thy side,
Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide.
A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine,
With gold unfading, [TEACHERS EVERYWHERE]! be thine.