Each One Teach One: We Are All Educators

by Mary Pat Champeau, IHE's Director of Educational Programs

As many of you may know, the phrase 'each one teach one' was born during the years of African slavery in the U.S. On top of all the other brutal and inhumane treatments enslaved men, women and children endured, they were denied any kind of education. Realizing the enormous disadvantage this was, many free blacks, literate slaves, and white sympathizers put themselves at great risk to conduct secret reading and writing classes. Each slave who learned to read and write accepted the responsibility of teaching another to read and write -- each one, teach one. The phrase has since been used to address poverty and literacy issues in other countries, and I'd like to invoke it for humane education.

As we learn, we teach. We help ourselves and each other along the path of understanding that might, if we're lucky and attentive, lead to wisdom. Teaching is a practice, always. We never really master it because as we continue to learn, our consciousness shifts, and the teaching changes. We are all teachers, whether we accept the role in our professions or not. People are learning from us all the time, just as we learn from others. It's how we grow, and it's perfectly natural, yet the act of teaching can feel almost unnatural if you aren't used to it; and let's face it, teaching has gotten a bad reputation over the years. As Winston Churchill famously said, "Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught." Clearly, he never had a good humane educator as his teacher!

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