This I Believe

Pell, Walden, 1902-

  • Walden Pell describes his belief that life is an "educational enterprise" filled with teachers who must be sure that they are passing along the truth to the next generation.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Walden Pell II is an educator. He has been the headmaster of the St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware since its establishment in 1930. A native New Yorker, he was educated at Princeton, and later went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Here is Dr. Pell to express his creed.
Having been a schoolmaster for twenty-five years, I tend to think of the world as a vast educational enterprise. In this veil
of soul making, the raw materials (atoms and molecules) evolve into living things and up through the scale of life into the development of mental and spiritual beings, whom we call men. The goal of this educational process in which I am involved is only dimly perceptible to me, yet it is clear enough for me to work toward and live by. This goal seems to be the knowledge and love and eternal enjoyment of God, and through that love, joyful fellowship with other souls who make up as it were the alumni body of this great system of schooling.
I like to think of God as the head of this cosmic school of living, or "university of the universe." Through His spirit, the curriculum and its lessons are communicated to the mind and spirit of its human pupils. But this communication is done through teachers. Some of
us, who are teachers by profession--or ministers, writers, editors, artists, musicians, or actors--bear a more direct responsibility for this teaching. But each of us is teaching all the time, whether he wants to or not, and whether or not what he teaches is true, constructive, and beautiful.
Every method of teaching known to education is used in this universal training school. We learn by example, by perceiving with our senses the things presented to us, by inspiration, by discovery, by struggle and temptation, by the rewards of success and the penalties of failure. Audiovisual aids are here in infinite abundance and variety: the whole universe around us, from the galaxies of the heavens
to the submicroscopic world of the atom; from the towering thunderclouds, the restless sea, the flowery meadows, the wooded hills and soaring mountain peaks; to the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the field; from machines and ships, planes and buildings, paintings and poems; to people, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, wise and foolish. All of these are the equipment by which I may teach and be taught. And this training process does not end with what we call "death," for that is really only a transfer or graduation from one stage of schooling to the next--just as from secondary schools students go on to college, and from there, perhaps, to graduate work in a university.
I believe that all my life is a chance to grow in wisdom, self-discipline, and self-giving, toward a final graduation: a goal of the knowledge and love of God. I can accept that chance, or I can reject it, for God wants to train me as a free agent, not a robot. A long line of great teachers--Moses, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, Plato and Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha Gautama and the others--culminated in the greatest teacher, the Carpenter of Nazareth. This I believe: that Jesus expressed perfectly and completely--not only by what He said, but by what He was and by what He did--the great lesson of love that God put me in the universe to learn.
That was Dr. Walden Pell II, who has not only been a teacher for the past twenty-five years, but has retained the opened and curious mind of a student.