The lighting of a fire

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
Apparently this wasn’t something that W.B.Yeats said, despite all the websites that say that he did. (They’re probably just quoting each other.)

No matter who said it, this quote speaks to me of the reality that learning never ends. We can, and should, keep learning for our entire lives. There’s always something new to discover about the world, about our students, and about ourselves.

It also speaks to me about the challenges of being a teacher. If education was like filling a pail, then at some point we would be able to say that our job was finished. But if the analogy of lighting a fire is true, then perhaps our job is never finished. A fire that’s lit needs to be tended. It doesn’t simply burn forever. Too much fuel can smother it. Too little oxygen can make it go out.

If this is all true, then the question remains — who helps teachers keep their fire lit?

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