I have been inspired and self-actualized by two major life forces.
I am a teacher at heart, so the first has been a lifelong search for information, learning history to understand the present, identifying trends and phenomena to better prepare for the future, and most importantly, being able to make sense of life and our complex world for students.
My teaching approach is to provide a foundation based on key concepts and basic facts to be learned. Educational success is the transfer of core knowledge and development of critical thinking skills that help young people to realize their hopes and dreams or self-actualization.
Teaching has been defamed by the professional libel of “those who can DO, and those who can’t TEACH.” That’s both wrong and unfair; those who know and understand teach. I was a born social studies teacher and my desire to comprehend how the world works has driven a lifelong passion to acquire information, particularly through travel.
My second special life force is an appreciation of cultural diversity and a personal joy from bringing many people and groups together for mutual benefit.
My mother told me just before she passed that as a child, I was the fairness enforcer among my friends. She described how I got everybody on the same page, especially about bullying. I’d take the side of the child being picked on with readiness to fight on their behalf. My being a pretty good wrestler, too, usually influenced them to listen.
I believe that bringing people together is in my DNA and may explain why I have served as chair of the Atlanta–Ra’anana committee for nearly two decades, and also organized 25 student exchanges as a teacher at North Atlanta High (1978 – 2003). People coming together across cultures to engage in friendship, trade, joint programs and projects is as good as it gets for me.
I am now a retired teacher, but have developed a website and Facebook page that reflects these same two life forces – bringing people together and educating them to live in peace, freedom, prosperity and love.
Arnold Heller is the chairman of the Atlanta-Ra’anana Sister City Committee and author of the novel, “Dues: The Coming of Allie Cohen.”