Valentine to Educators

Dorothea Mordan
4 min readJan 31, 2024

A French teacher once said to our class “French is not a translation of English.” One of my classmates was trying to say a simple phrase such as “I am excited to go to the movies with you this weekend.”

Verbs, adverbs and adjectives run in a different order in different languages, and the student was struggling with the basic grammatical differences between English and French. Each culture on Earth has developed language over centuries, some over millennia. The quote has stuck with me ever since. It is a great reminder that there is so much happening under the surface of our actions.

Educators — teachers, librarians, mentors, original thinkers — know that we are not translations of each other, and that the values of a shared country can have different interpretations in daily life.

Educators are keepers of books, and beautiful words such as freedom. In our current phase of social and political disagreement it is worth noting the complexity of human nature illustrated in the different meanings of a single word. We learn the history of freedom in libraries and schools. From the Magna Carta, through the Separatists, to the US Constitution, human societies in the Western Hemisphere have hammered out governing documents that have sought to impose order when balancing the rights of citizens with the demands from, and the responsibilities of government.

We keep definitions of two groups of Americans in big boxes with tight lids, perhaps to avoid cross pollination of thoughts. One set of freedoms for…