I believe that two of the most important responsibilities each of us has are learning and teaching. In this vast world, opportunities may vary as far accessibility to classrooms, certified teachers, libraries, computers, and the Internet; but whatever is available should be cherished and utilized. Likewise, life circumstances for some have made being taught by their mother, grandmother, or aunts impossible, but I hope that women and girls in these situations will find mentors who can mother them and help pass on the wisdom that comes from life experiences. Regardless of where in the world we find ourselves, there is always something and some way to learn; and once we have learned, it becomes our responsibility to teach, help, and lift those around us.
In my life, I was blessed to be taught skills and ideas by the women in my family. I was also blessed with the opportunity to attend good schools and gain a formal education. Now, when I make soup to nourish my family, I think of my grandmother who not only showed me when I was a child, but coached me through the process over the phone when I was a young mother trying to make it taste like hers. When I enjoy a good book, I think of my friends, the librarians and teachers, who encouraged my love of reading. I also hope that I am a good teacher to my children and those with whom I have been involved.
Beyond life and vocational skills, there are ideas that can have great impact on our societies – our families, communities, local and national governments, and yes, with the ripple effect, even our world. That is part of why Big Ocean Women participates in U.N. events such as the Commission on the Status of Women each March in New York City and the Civil Society Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, Utah just last week. We feel compelled to learn about what other organizations are doing to influence society, teach about our philosophy, and to share what we have learned.
I have found it particularly interesting that it was as I taught my children school lessons at home that I finally fully understood grammar, math, and history lessons that I am sure my teachers in school had tried to teach me. I believe this is a key to understanding: We learn to teach, then understand as we teach. This is another reason that there is such a responsibility to share what we know.
I hope that each of us can recognize the importance of being life-long learners and watch for opportunities to share our knowledge with others. I hope that we can each recognize the true enabling and ennobling power in knowledge and wisdom and work to gain true understanding. As maternal feminists working for a better world, these are vitally important responsibilities.
What are some of the most important things you have learned? How can you help people in your sphere of influence have better access to education? Have you experienced gaining a better understanding as you have worked to teach others?