Our dictionaries are too small. We do not have nearly enough words to name the realities around us. My 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary and two supplements are too spare. We have to keep recombining words to express what we find in God's rich world.

For example, the OED skips from teacher to teachership, though there's a small-print reference to teacherdom as "obs. rare." I have another suggestion: teacherness.

I always have my net out for unique word usages. I found teacherness in the April 17 Chicago Tribune Magazine. The cover story featured "Karla Kelly's Classroom: Teaching Hope and the ABCs in a Violent World." Kelly teaches in a Chicago school near the high-rise purgatory of public housing called the Robert Taylor Homes. The children's trip to her classroom is a life-and-death journey through a drug-infested, high-crime neighborhood.


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