What Do You Make?


Taylor McDowell Mali, an American Slam Poet, Humorist, Teacher and Voiceover Artist wrote the very famous poem – What Teachers Make in 1999. The poem got copied, pasted, and sent by email by well meaning teachers and fans, wrote Mali sometime ago. Soon enough the poem became anonymous.

Even Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist quoted one of the anonymous versions in its entirety as part of his Yale graduation speech in 2003. Taylor Mali has chosen to inspire teachers anonymously rather than not inspiring them at all.

Here’s the full version of Taylor Mali’s famous poem:

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: “ What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

He said to another guest: “ You are a teacher Susan. Be honest. What do you make?”

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, “ You want to know what I make?”

“ I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honour and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best.

You want to know what I make?
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticise.
I make them apologise and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on all their final drafts in English.
I elevate them to experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments.
I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart…and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention.

You want to know what I make?
I make a difference.

By the way, what do you make?”

Image: Wikipedia