I was a teacher, once upon a time. I learned to do the job correctly. I think I earned the pay they gave me. I think I choose to believe at least a few of those kids who told me, “Mr. B, you were the best teacher I ever had.” I’m not full of myself and conceited or anything. But the world needs good teachers. And I think I answered the call.
But I had to give it up. I am not well enough to even be a substitute teacher. I can’t breathe very well. My body is wracked with arthritis pain. I am subject to bouts of depression brought on by chronic pain. And I am worried that it is a job which has become so very much harder to do. Politics and people’s opinions of teachers and the sacrifices you have to make in pay for your work are all making teaching an impossibly hard job. I fear that more and more it is being populated not by the best and brightest, the ones who love teaching kids, rather it is a place for losers. A job held by people that were trapped by mistakes they made or lack of real choices. A job that they don’t take up as “holy mission from God”, but as a way to get by. Too many people are taking up teaching so they can fake it and pick up a paycheck. They hate the job. They hate the kids. And there is no joy in Mudville.
So here is the best thing that I can say or do to try to help this problem. Read this plea and seriously think about doing it. Become a teacher! It is the most important thing you could ever do. And who, exactly am I talking to? Well, you made the mistake of reading this far, didn’t you? If you are young and have your life ahead of you, especially if you are brilliant enough to be reading my obscure little posts on my obscure little blog, you have to realize that becoming a teacher is about more than building your own personal career castle. It is about guiding future generations in the pouring of concrete, the shoring up with strong wooden and stone pillars, and the laying of strong foundations for their own castles. The castle you build will never be as grand as the castles you will help others to build.
Neuschwanstein castle will look like a sandcastle next to those. I can testify that there is no more satisfying experience than seeing a child you taught grow and thrive and become a worthy citizen of the world.
And I know some of you are smugly thinking that, “He’s not talking to me. He’s just talking to those young goobers headed to college or not sure what they want to do with their lives.” Not at all. I am talking to you too. No adult is immune to the needs of the young. Every act of every day can be used to show the way. Read to a kid. Tell them that story about that time your Uncle Everett learned the hard way that raising chinchillas was not the road to riches and easy money, that it came with numerous foul-tempered rodent bites. Spend time with them. Get to know them. And if you are like me and have lost your good health and your access to kids other than your own, then write it all down in your blog, all the stuff that you know. It will help them and heal them and give them wisdom to grow. If that sounds like Dr. Seuss stuff… well, that’s because it is. Dr. Seuss was one of the best teachers I ever had.
I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I just told you all to be teachers. I am alone during the school day, feeling ill and feeling depressed. I strut and fret my hour upon the stage (of the front of the classroom) no more. But what can I do about it? I just did it. And I feel better!