Esquire: The Teacher
April 21, 2014
By Charles P. Pierce
Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher. Perhaps, a great one.
Rich: And if I was who would know it?
More: You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public, that…oh, and a quiet life.
—Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, Act I
The best teachers are the ones who remain students at heart, the ones who keep learning from their students, and from the world around them, and from their own drive to know even more about even more things, and who then are able to transmit that knowledge—and more important, the drive to know more—to their students. That’s how great teachers echo through time. That’s how great teachers become immortal.
It is the faint beginning of dusk at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D. C., the last rays of the winter sun slanting through the big windows in angled shards across the carpet. The waiting area is jammed with people waiting for the last US Airways shuttle of the day from Washington to Boston. As it so happens, this particular waiting area is a target-rich environment if you happen to be a fan of the Washington power elite. You can see your favorite NBC pundits, waiting to fly to Boston in order to get to the Vineyard for the weekend. You can see celebrity television historians from Harvard and celebrity television astronomers from MIT. If you’re really lucky and stay really quiet in your duck blind behind the Auntie Anne’s stand, you might even spot a random Kennedy or three, headed back to the compound on the Cape. Tip O’Neill, a cigar jammed into his mouth, once worked this space. So did Ted Kennedy, head buried in some document drawn from his battered and overstuffed briefcase. It is the political junkie’s equivalent of the red carpet, especially at the end of a long week.