Why Everyone Should Teach

This week, I got to put my teacher hat back on and share some of what I’ve learned so far in vet school with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students at a nearby elementary school.  This school’s wonderful music teacher applied for and received a grant to conduct an interdisciplinary project centered around horses.  I traveled with three of my classmates/colleagues, loaded down with horse leg bones, lungs, hearts, etc and fielded energetic questions from ~300 students.

Situations like this are the best part of teaching.  Just when we were getting overwhelmed in our classwork by the sheer magnitude of information coming our way, we got the opportunity to share in the enthusiasm of these children, who are able to see the big picture.  And the big picture is really awesome!  It reminded me of my own passion for veterinary medicine and stimulated its continued development.

I was particularly effected by a brief conversation with one of the students.  She told me that it was her dream to go to NC State and be a veterinarian.  When I asked, she told me she was nine years old and I was suddenly struck by the thought that I was this child.  She and I shared the same dream as nine-year-olds.  I told her this and encouraged her to hold on to her dreams.  The smile she gave me because of my encouragement was the most valuable thing I’ve received in a long time.

In my dream world, everyone would get to experience what we did by sharing horse bones with these enthusiastic children.  There is a profound mutual benefit that arises from being able to communicate your passion with another person and have them share in your fascination.  So find something you love and share it.  Teach others why it’s awesome.  Tell your friends, your family, the stranger on the bus, and the people who live next door.  The benefits you gain from these interactions will enrich your life as much as theirs!

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