Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

As Told by Wayne Dyer

A fifth grade teacher began her first day with a new class. All the students were neat and well behaved, except for Jack, a boy in the front row, who was slumped in his chair and seemed to need a bath. She felt annoyed by his lack of effort, and delighted in marking his papers all over with her red pen, giving him a big ‘F’, failure.

However, teachers in her school were required to read all their students’ reports from earlier years. The first grade teacher wrote, “Jack is a smart and happy boy, full of promise.” The second grade teacher wrote, “Jack seems worried about his mother’s terminal illness.” The third and fourth grade teachers wrote “Jack seems depressed about the loss of his mother.”

Now she understood. From then on she was more patient with Jack, focusing on what he did well instead of his shortcomings. She volunteered to tutor him after classes. For Christmas, all the children brought neatly wrapped gifts. Jack brought something wrapped clumsily in brown paper from a shopping bag. She opened it while the other children frowned and found a necklace with some missing gem stones, and half a bottle of perfume. She wore the necklace and put on some of the perfume. After school, Jack told her with a bright smile, “Today you smell just like my Mom.”

At the end of the year, Jack told her, “You were the best teacher I ever had.” About every four years, she received a letter from Jack, saying what he was doing and adding, “You are still the best teacher I ever had.”

He became a medical doctor, and for his wedding, he asked his fifth grade teacher to take the place of his deceased mother. She wore the necklace and put on the perfume Jack had given her.

Jack told her, “Thank you for being so patient and encouraging, without you I would never have made it.” She said, “No, I must thank you, because you taught me how to teach.”

A Chinese proverb says, “Don’t curse the darkness; light a candle.”


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Jan 2018.

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