My apologies in advance for what might seem like an acrimonious post. I am trying to come to grips with my own educational experience, the trends in online, free education, and the supositions about the world conventional wisdom gave me.
Education is a field people like me are attracted to because you can avoid having to engage the world as it is and put all your energy into how things might be instead. Yes, there are day to day issues and especially in challenging inner city and rural schools things might get all too real too fast for your students, but you will be able to earn your keep while making a better world, or so you think. You will be preparing your students for success, but not necessarily creating a world where that success is possible. Maybe all you’ll really do is be a role model- that could be great for them, but it is great for you as well. Maybe you will have the joy of serving others and maybe you do believe in serving others. But I don’t think that entitles you to go hiding behind the ivory tower walls because you don’t want to dirty your white gloves. Don’t stay in school and say you are preparing your students for a world you have never conquered yourself.
it would be so much easier to just be a teacher. My life could have been a lot less structured, I could potentially have put less a lot less of myself and ambition into what I do. Teaching would have been something I did because I couldn’t do anything useful otherwise, and I liked helping people. Well, I still do like helping people, but I at least want to have a real job and help people in some way there first.
Yes, all the great poets nad writers and scholars who weren’t indpendently wealthy just peddled knowledge that was an ornament for the rich. One could always nanny, like Jane Eyre. Progressives think that wealth follows education but the truth is that it’s often the other way around, and it’s those pit traders that have more sophisticated heuristics than the overly mathematized academics, as Nicholas Taleb points out in his book Antifragile.
There’s a part of me that just wants to be an educator, but I question it because I think it’s just one of many ways of avoiding the dirt and mess and corruption of the real world. It’s much easier to be irrelevant and banal there when you think you are doing no harm than when you are actually in a competitive sphere where you eat what you kill. If you can’t live by your ideals inthat world, you shouldn’t be teaching them in school, or you are only weakening the idea of ethics by giving it the lie in your own heart.
Some people are called to be teachers, and I respect them. Others want to change the world and be leaders, and I respect them too. But I don’t think teaching or learning only takes place in the classroom, and any thing you learned in school you can’t take outside of it goes against the Hippocrates Oath. Sure, we learn about a more idealized world and teaching young generations is one of the few enduring methods of social change. But if you want to teach any knowledge that’s not purely theoretical, go put some skin in the game and go out there and make your way in the world first. At least that’s what I tell myself and hope i just didn’t get lead astray somewhere. Teaching should not be a profession- it should be a way of life.
And that’s why, even though some of the deepest moments of human connection I’ve ever experienced and th eplace I feel most comfortable expressing myself is in a classroom, I’m going to go make some mountain out of all this ground.
That’s why I didn’t take the structured path. That’s why I didn’t do the thing I knew I ocould do.
Not just ambition, not just wanting to lead a more high profile life corresponding to societal norms (though I can’t say those weren’t factors). But if I’m going to say you can do anything, I’ve got to go out there and do some impossible myself first. Inspiring others is an important and meaningful act, but first, I have to inspire myself, and find my own way before I can help others find theirs.
This is just an opinion o f today, and is not meant as a rant against teachers, though I could go on a whole rampage against the current organized education system.
Benjamin Franklin apparently said, “He who teaches himself learns from a fool,” but I think Nike’s “Just do it,” might be more in order, even though they probably use Laotian child labor which appalls me. Which means I should try to figure out a way for business to be more ethical rather than railing against it in a classroom and not figuring out a way to go do it while making a profit.
I’m not sure exactly why I hate school so much right now. Maybe it’s because I actually do, au fond, know what I want to do.