When John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, referred to the last game he “ever taught,” he was asked about this phrasing. He said simply that a coach is first and foremost a teacher who should not only improve his players’ athletic skills, but also help them become better people. And he was a superb teacher whose lasting influence is reflected in the values he instilled, not the championships he won.
Henry Adams said, “Teachers affect all eternity.” As those who are taught teach others, the teacher’s legacy grows. Sadly, the way we select and reward schoolteachers and coaches shows how much we undervalue their crucial role in shaping the character and destiny of our children.
But even worse, we tend to forget that the first and by far the most important teachers are those engaged in parenting. Good child-rearing involves more than providing food, shelter, and education. It also involves instilling good values and habits, teaching right from wrong, and showing how to make good decisions that are both effective and ethical.
Yes, it’s important to help kids become smart and competent, but as Teddy Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in the mind but not the morals is to educate a menace to society.” Parents need to be attentive and dedicated to assuring that their children have the tools to lead truly good lives, lives with purpose and meaning and value. That means we need to teach, enforce, advocate, and model the best we want our children to be.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.