I understand my position as a teacher to be more than a profession–it’s a vocation, a calling to embark upon a persistent perilous quest to seek Truth and Justice. Being a teacher, for me, is a Socratic and prophetic calling. As teachers, we have to be Socratic witnesses. We have to expose falsehoods. If you are wondering if you have to be a professional teacher, that is, have a formal career as a teacher to be considered a teacher, you do not have to. We all can be teachers if we are willing to pursue and propagate paideia (education/knowledge/ instruction).
When will we reach a time when there is a willingness to challenge false appearances of Truth? When will we reach a time when there is a willingness to challenge authority and harmful dimensions of the status quo. I remain skeptical but hopeful that individuals like me will continue to hold people accountable to reach this moment and willingness.
I understand that the purpose of education is to teach you how to die. You have only a short time to live on Earth, and you must determine how you are going to use this time before you return to dirt and feces. As a teacher, I make sure that people understand the importance of thinking critically for themselves, avoiding the limitations of stereotypes, harmful prejudices, discrimination, racism, White supremacy, Jim and Jane Crowism, and bigotry. I wish that all teachers would join me in this effort. We would live in such a better world, with more peace and harmony.
In short, teaching for me is about advancing other people. This does not mean that you will not have to challenge, upset, and criticize them in the process of advancing them–you will–it means you will need to do all that is necessary to bring out the greatest potential in them. People cannot grow when they are weighed down with ignorance and falsehoods. This is the moment for us to seek Truth and Justice. In order to do this, we must do what Dr. Joyce L. Cherry once said, “Pull the hoods and sheets off your head and expose you for who you really are.”
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison