Leave a Legacy

Teachers can leave a legacy by serving as mentors
and "wise elders" to their students.

Greening our teaching means thinking like an ancestor, and considering what gifts we would like to leave behind.

How do you want to be remembered as a teacher? As strict, or nice, or funny? I've heard so many teachers say, "Well, if I can help just one pupil..." or "If I can make a difference in just one student's life...." These are honourable notions, but we no longer have the luxury of educating for a lifetime to impact just one child.

We can — and must — have a much larger influence, by consciously choosing what kind of legacy we want to leave — and by serving as role models to our students, as mentors and elders who care about the state of our students' planet and their future.

Here's the piece of writing that got me thinking "legacy" today.

"I've always felt a kinship with forest, always felt at home, with my brothers and sisters, the trees. The earthy smell, the varied greens, the silence and privacy all wrap around me, as if to welcome me home.

And now, in the fall, the wondrous golds that illuminate the landscape are an extra blessing. It's as if the trees, in the autumn of their life, burst forth with an added effort to make sure they go out in a blaze of glory.

Another lesson, perhaps, from nature. Not a bad example to follow now that I, too, am in the autumn of my life. There's so much still to contribute, and so many things still to learn. And like the trees, whose leaves and needles lay a rich carpet on the forest floor, adding humus to benefit the next generation, my hope is that my life's carpet will lay gently on the land when I am done, adding rather than detracting, woven more of love, laughter and light than anything else."

— Ina Timmer, Green Angels

Isn't that beautiful? And evocative? In a flash, it made me realize that I can't be just a French teacher, or a good teacher, or even a favourite teacher anymore. I must be more, leave more. I must serve as a wise elder now, and work for the highest good of all the children, of all species.

"The time will soon be here
when my grandchild will long for the cry of a loon,
the flash of a salmon,
the whisper of spruce needles,
or the screech of an eagle.
But he will not make friends with any of these creatures
and when his heart aches with longing
he will curse me.
Have I done all to keep the air fresh?
Have I cared enough about the water?
Have I left the eagle to soar in freedom?
Have I done everything I could
to earn my grandchild’s fondness?"
— Chief Dan George

Making a difference in the world — for the world on behalf of every one of your students — is one very good reason to green your teaching.

Return from Leave a Legacy to Reasons for Greening

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