Teaching as Giving Credit

by Joel Lurie Grishaver

Here is a very simple text that says a lot, more than we at first think it does. In the Talmud, Ta’anit 15b, we are told,

One who teaches an idea in the name of the teacher who originally said it, hastens the redemption.

Three huge ideas emerge from this simple idea:

  1. That the act of teaching is an act of giving credit. We are constantly building links between our teachers and our students. Learning, is not just about mastery, not just about being able to do things or know things, but about having a connection with great ideas and those who created them.
  2. The respect we receive in the classroom is very much derived from the respect we model in our classroom. When we show honor and respect to the teachers and minds who empowered our knowing and thinking, we are showing our students how to treat us. It is not just a question of—if we show our students respect—then they will respect us. Rather, it is a chance to show students what it means to respect a teacher—ever time we teach.
  3. Finally, teaching is a redemptive act. The very act of connecting our students into the tradition is an act of redeeming the world. It could be the logical chain that by empowering students, they go out and make a difference. Or, it could be something more abstract, that the very act of teaching is an act of releasing a redemptive force. In either case—the simple truth is this—when we bring our own teachers into our classrooms and introduce them to our students—we are making the world a better place. I like that.

Joel Lurie Grishaver is the Creative Chairperson of Torah Aura Productions.

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