Tal Ben-Shachar, PhD. is a reputable lecturer in Harvard and thousands of students are gathering to hear him. Listen to story he tells about Marva Collins:

Marva Collins was a teacher in a very bad neighborhood in Chicago, a place rich with crime and drugs but poor with optimism and hope. The local educators felt it hard to believe that their students will be able to escape from the poverty and the desperation that was inherited from one generation to the other.

In 1975 Marva Collins established the “Westside school” for children who were rejected by other schools and weren’t been able to integrate with the regular educational system. This school gave them the last chance before they were thrown out to the streets.

Collin’s students absorbed her vision – that every student has the potential to succeed. They were thought Shakespeare, they developed self confidence and they could imagine a future with hope. The kids that were regarded as complete failures reached universities.

Collins established her school with a small amount of money and during 20 years she struggled through financial difficulties. Few times she was much closed to bankruptcy. Today there are “Marva Collins” schools in more than one state in America. Educators from all over the world are arriving to Chicago to meet with her, learn her ways and to be inspired. Nevertheless, when she is around with executives of large corporations, that made some fortune for themselves, she always asked herself again and again why she wants to be a teacher. And while she remembers one of her students she finds the answer:

Tiffany was regarded as an autistic child. She didn’t speak and experts said that she was a kind of a child that you cannot love and teach. But then, one day, after significant time investment and lots of patient, prayers love and persistence, Tiffany said her first words: “I love you’ Mrs. Collins.” I realized then that the tears in her eyes together with her declaration made me the richest woman in the whole world. Today I watch Tiffany writes numbers, starting to read single words, talks and most of all, I can see the joy of triumph in her eyes that says, “I’m also important to somebody. I’m also able to learn.” It is worth for me much more than the whole gold in Port Knox.

Marva Collins could earn fortune and spare herself the worries of shutdown and deficits. She received offerings from both, Bush and Reagan administrations, to serve as the Minister of Education and gain all the prestige that should follow. But Collins loved to teach and she strongly believed that her contribution in the classroom would be higher. Teaching gave significance to her life, more than any other job could offer. Teaching gave her emotional satisfaction that no fortune could buy. Because happiness – not gold or prestige – is the “currency” that counts. 

(From the book “Happiness” by Tal Ben-Shachar, PhD.)

I guess that the “importance of happiness over money “can be considered as a cliché. Nevertheless, pay attention to the following distinction made by Dr. Ben-Shachar:

When we estimate the worth of a business entity we use money as a measurement tool. Any other things that we can’t value by money means will not add or subtract from the entity’s valuation. In this case – Money is the “currency” that counts.

As for the human being the “currency” that counts is not money neither is it fame, fortune or power. The “currency” that counts for a human being is Happiness. Money and fame are subject to happiness and they have no internal value by itself. There was no reason to seek for fame or fortune if it wouldn’t contribute, or that we believe that it will contribute, in one way or another to happiness.


With much love and appreciation to all of you that are involved with teaching and education

Fireworks (29)
Shuka, Thursday, May 14, 2009  

Marva Collins

Narva Collins

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