Search form

Fictional Characters Offer Advice for Educators

Fictional tales often inspire readers’ own soul-searching quests. In that spirit of adventure, Education World has highlighted five pieces of fiction that offer teachers and administrators wisdom they can apply to K-12 education.


“The heart lies and the head plays tricks on us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.”

--Syrio Forel, master fencer, former First Sword of Braavos and fencing instructor to Arya Stark in “A Game of Thrones”

Syrio’s words explain much more than the nuances of tuning one’s body and mind to the art of sword fighting. More than anything else, educators rely on their instincts when tackling difficult situations in the classroom. While literal taste and touch might not come into play, it’s always important to take the room’s emotional “temperature.” Sample the attitudes of your students and feel out their moods. Try beginning the week by asking students about their weekends, goals, and educational interests. Fine-tune your instruction to fit the personalities in your classroom, and you’ll be able to battle any obstacle that comes your way.

“Everybody is special. Everybody. Everybody is a hero, a lover, a fool, a villain. Everybody. Everybody has their story to tell.”

--V, the anarchist freedom fighter in V for Vendetta

Things aren’t always clear-cut, and sometimes the truth can be elusive. When a behavioral disruption involves more than one student, make sure to always listen with complete objectivity, despite prior experiences. Be willing to believe that any student is capable of anything, good or bad. If you’re really listening, the truth of the situation will surface.

“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature. I don’t blame anyone for not believing.”

--Former spy Jurgen Warmbrunn and an interview subject in World War Z

While the quote above references a horrific zombie apocalypse, it applies to teaching in a positive way. Optimism can be a teacher’s best friend, and that’s especially true when considering a young person’s potential. Never stop believing in your students, despite the assumptions that human nature might suggest. Expect the best-possible outcome for all students, and watch them, in turn, believe in themselves.

“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. The quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

--Lord of Rivendell Elrond Half-elven in The Fellowship of the Ring

Much like Frodo’s task as the Fellowship’s ringbearer, students are asked to do things that may seem impossible to them. Never forget that their journey is as arduous for them as it can be stressful for you. Your internal strength will help push your students forward, and while your superiors might not recognize it, each success that you have with a striving student is moving the wheels of the world in the right direction. No matter how weak or strong you are, perseverance is what makes for a heroic educator.

“Reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope.”

--Yale alumnus, World War I veteran and bonds salesman Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

Change can be difficult, especially when resources are limited. When it comes to major transitions like implementing the Common Core, it can be tempting to make snap judgments about the situation. Don’t think too far into the future without considering how the present is playing out. As you take on difficult tasks, look at the puzzle pieces inquisitively, as opposed to judgmentally.



Article by Jason Cunningham, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
Education World®      
Copyright © 2014 Education World