No. 257



The American editor & craftsman Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) once said, The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without the teacher. After many years of being out in the real world, I have come to the conclusion that Teaching is the greatest profession of them all. You cannot name one single individual in all of history who achieved greatness that does not owe a debt of gratitude, whether large or small, to one or more of his or her teachers.

Over the past several weeks something thrilling has happened in my life that I believe will not only be of interest but will give you a resource that could change your views and your outlook on life. This is especially true if you fail to see the validity of my earlier statement that Teaching is the greatest profession of them all.

Back when I was in High School in the mid 1950s I discovered a book titled, The Thread That Runs So True. This book was written by Jesse Stuart, a Kentucky rural mountain school teacher, about his life and experiences in the days of education before we had modern conveniences. For me, it had a magnetism about it that made it difficult to lay aside. I might add, one of the few books that did.

As I read page after page about the hard times and the struggles his rural mountain students faced each day in an attempt to better themselves, I was grateful for what we had, even though it would pale in comparison with the advantages that students have today. After reading The Thread That Runs So True, and being touched by it, I laid it aside and hadnt thought about it again for almost fifty years.

Then almost by chance I was talking with a Kentucky newspaper publisher and he told me that I could purchase a copy from the Joseph-Beth Book Store in Lexington. This is a unique book store and they have a Website I got the phone number, called and ordered a copy and it arrived a few days later. As I read it again my mind was flooded with memories of my first encounter with this classic book.

Here are a few thoughts from the preface that will give you some insights: No one can tell me that education, rightly directed without propaganda, cannot change the individual, community, county, state and the world for the better. It can. There must be health, science, technology, the arts, and conservation of all worthwhile things that aid humanity upon this earth. And there must, above all, be character education.

As a teacher in a one-room school, where I taught all eight grades, and then high school, as a principal of rural and city high schools and superintendent of city and county school systems, I learned by experience that teaching is the greatest profession there is, and that the classroom can be made one of the most exciting places on earth for young, middle-aged, and older people to improve themselves for more useful and richer living.

While this is personal and will not interest you, my joy overflows because my column runs in many Kentucky newspapers and I have no doubt that some of Jesse Stuarts relatives or ancestors have read my column. I was also inspired when I talked with Dorothy Griffith, the head librarian in Greenup, Kentucky who was one of his students. If you are an educator and have never run across this book and would like to have a deeper appreciation for your profession, I sure can recommend it. While I dont have the power, I believe this book should be required reading for every teacher in America. As I said earlier, Teaching is the greatest profession of them all. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)